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Saying It Out Loud, By Pat Soldano. March 2024. - Pat Soldano

The Results Are In! We’re Back to Budget Deficits and Personal Tax Rates as Top Concerns

Taxes, Market Conditions, and Workforce Issues Rank High in New Family Enterprise USA Family Business Survey


By Pat Soldano

Each year we conduct a survey among America’s family-owned businesses . We do this to gauge the temperature of overall business health, economic winds, and the legislative policy climate in Washington, DC.

This year’s survey was our largest survey to date , getting responses from nearly 800 family businesses and offices from 40 states, and with respondents answering some 44 questions about the state of family businesses and the legislative policy issues that concern family businesses.

The survey is fresh, having been conducted in January and February of this year. Simply, it’s the most current look at what’s going on at the grass roots level of our economy, where family businesses employ 59% of the country’s non-government workforce.

I and Family Enterprise USA want to extend our sincere gratitude to all organizations who partnered with us on this year’s Annual Family Business Survey . This commitment to fostering awareness and generating interest in this crucial initiative has been instrumental in achieving a record-breaking response. This collaborative effort directly contributes to gathering a comprehensive data set that offers invaluable insights into the challenges and opportunities facing family-owned businesses nationwide.

I want to especially thank the many family business centers for their substantial support in helping to distribute the survey, including University of Cincinnati’s Goering Center for Family & Private Business, the Institute for Family-Owned Business, University of Toledo Family Business Center, University of South Dakota’s Prairie Family Business Association, Wake Forest University, Family Business Alliance – Grand Rapids, California State University, Fullerton – Center for Family Business, the University of Pittsburg, Family Business Magazine, Family Enterprise Center- University of Arkansas, PKF O’Connor Davies, Anderson University of South Carolina, and the Institute for Family Business in Maine, among many others.

The Survey Says

The results are in, and there are some important shifts going on , according to this year’s survey. We will publish all the key findings from the survey shortly, but here are some quick highlights.

This year, according to 30% of the respondents , the top economic public policy priority was “Reduce Federal Budget/Debt.” The next highest ranked concern was “Reduce Income Taxes” at 23%. In third place, 16% of respondents mentioned “Reduce Regulation” as a top concern.

Our 2023 results showed “Reduce Income Taxes” (19%) and “Reduce/Eliminate Estate Taxes” (18%) as the top two worries.

This year’s survey also showed the “Greatest Impediment to Growth in 2024/2025” is “Market Conditions,” with 31% of those surveyed ranking it as their number one challenge.

It can be assumed that “Market Conditions” cover a broad array of worries, from inflation to fear of a recession to the coming November Presidential elections. This was followed closely by “Cost/Availability of Labor,” which saw 26.5% of respondents cited it as their top impediment to growth this year and next.

When it came to “What Estate Tax Provision is Most Important to You?” our respondents voted strongly for two options: 1) “Keep the Current Exemption” to the end of 2025 (36%); or, 2) “Repeal the Estate Tax” (26%).

It should be noted both numbers changed substantially from last year’s responses.

In 2023, respondents voting to “Repeal the Estate Tax” entirely was higher at 31%. But respondents voting to “Keep the Current Estate Tax” was lower, at 24%. Simply, it seems family business owners are looking to hold on to the Estate Tax status quo for the time being.

Workforce Challenges and Wages

When we asked about workforce challenges , the data showed a strong similarity of thought.

The survey revealed 54% of family business owners were having major challenges in “Recruiting and Training.” Nearly every family business leader I speak with today sings this song, and it’s growing louder.

When it comes to “Pay and Benefits,” 25% of respondents said they worry about these costs. And, the survey found, 46% say they pay “Above Average” salaries and benefits, while 41% say they pay “Average Wages and Benefits.”

Of the many things we asked, one that sticks out as an opportunity to create real change came in the question, “Have You Met Your Member of Congress?”

Sadly, 78% said, “No.”

We need to change this number if we want to see real change in our policies in Congress.

Go out and find the office of your Congress member. Talk to their staff, write letters about your concerns, come to Washington, DC, and knock-on doors. Better still, take part in one of our Congressional Family Business Caucus meetings .

Your participation, along with the data we receive from our annual survey is critical in shaping impactful family business policies, and we hope these actions help pave the way for continued growth, better policy decision making, and ultimately prosperity for America’s largest employer, family businesses.

Pat Soldano, President of Family Enterprise USA , and the Policy Taxation Group , both are non-partisan organizations advocating for family businesses of all sizes and are the organizers of the Family Enterprise USA Annual Family Business Survey.

We hope you’ve enjoyed this article. While you’re here, we have a small favor to ask…

As we prepare for what promises to be a pivotal year for America, we’re asking you to consider becoming a member.

The need for fact-based reporting of issues important to multi generational businesses and protecting a lifetime of savings has never been greater. Now more than ever, multi generational businesses and family businesses are under fire. That’s why Family Enterprise USA is passionately working to increase the awareness of issues important to generationally-owned family businesses built on hard work, while continuing to strengthen our presence on Capitol Hill. The issues we fight for or against with Congress in Washington DC include high income tax rates , possible elimination of valuation discounts, increase in capital gains tax , enactment of a wealth tax , and the continued burden of the gift tax , estate tax and generation skipping tax .

Family Enterprise USA promotes generationally owned family business creation, growth, viability, and sustainability by advocating for family businesses and their lifetime of savings with Congress in Washington DC.  Since 2007, Family Enterprise USA has represented and celebrated all sizes, professions and industries of family-owned enterprises and multi-generational employers. It is a bi-partisan 501.c3 organization. Family foundations can donate.

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The post Saying It Out Loud, By Pat Soldano. March 2024. appeared first on Family Enterprise USA .

Family Enterprise USA is the organization that represents all family businesses on a national level in DC; it is not unique to any industry. Family Enterprise USA is different from other organizations because it represents and advocates for the families of family businesses and the issues, they face running their businesses every day. Our sole mission and purpose is to promote family businesses and their job growth in America. We also support the work of Family Business Centers across the country. We hope your family will choose to be a member of Family Enterprise USA.