Main Street sentiment has been increasingly upbeat in the months postelection. The post-Trump outlook is underscored by the National Federation of Independent Business' monthly optimism index climbing to its highest levels in more than a decade on the hopes of deregulation and tax reform.
Trump took executive action on Jan. 30, putting in place a regulatory freeze and eliminating the budget for regulation in fiscal year 2017.
"We are overregulated, and there's a lot of confusion over the regulations that are currently on the books right now," said Karen Kerrigan, CEO of the nonpartisan advocacy group Small Business & Entrepreneurship Council.
Among the most confusing regulations for some small business owners is the tax code. Timothy Reynolds, owner of Tribute, a software company in Hudson, Ohio, estimates his business spends some 50 hours a year doing nothing but compliance on the federal level, and he has an accountant, which costs some $15,000 for the business each year to file.
He describes the code as immense, contradictory and unpredictable, since it changes from year to year. "But the greatest burden of federal taxes is around compliance and simply understanding what the tax code is requiring of us," Reynolds said. "It's our quarterly and monthly filings and payroll taxes around that — just the sheer quantity of work we have to put into the project to pay our taxes, which diverts our attention away from building our business."
Like many other small business owners, Reynolds is "enthusiastic" about the idea of comprehensive tax reform. Although a formal plan has not yet been released, Trump has promised cuts in both personal and business taxes. On Wednesday, in a meeting with retail CEOs at the White House, he said the "massive tax plan is coming along really well," adding it would be "submitted in the not-too-distant future."
One more regulation many small businesses are anxiously awaiting to see reformed is the Affordable Care Act.