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posted: 10/16/2017 1:00 AM

Springfield needs to step up for small business: It’s time for LLC fee reform

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Small businesses are the economic engine of our state and their growth is the key to rebuilding financial stability in Illinois.

Politicians almost universally praise small businesses, but many times the highly publicized initiatives that are meant to energize economic growth focus on the needs of larger companies. This summer, amid all the partisan bickering, Springfield found a way to pass measures providing tax credits for corporations.

Now the state must step up to and support legislation that is laser-focused on empowering small businesses during veto session.

The fees associated with filing and operating a limited liability company, or LLC, in Illinois are among the highest in the nation. In our state, the initial filing fee and annual renewal fee are $500 and $250 respectively. These excessive fees greatly exceed the national average and further tarnish Illinois' already tenuous reputation in the business community.

Forming as a LLC is the right choice for many small businesses as it provides the limited liability features of a corporation with the tax efficiencies and operational flexibility of a partnership. Unfortunately, far too many business owners do not form LLC's in Illinois because of these excessive fees.

Lowering LLC fees to match the rates corporations in Illinois currently pay will help level the playing field for small businesses, encourage new businesses to form, and improve the perception of the business climate for would-be entrepreneurs. It will also send a strong signal that Springfield is committed to empowering small business owners in our state.

The Small Business Advocacy Council is part of a large coalition of business organizations and local advocates working to pass legislation this year to reform existing LLC fees. Our efforts have made a real impact and the coalition-backed bill, SB 867, passed the Illinois House with unanimous support on May 31st.

This bill has since been referred to the Committee on Assignments and the next step is for the sponsor of the measure, State Senator Tom Cullerton (D-Villa Park), to bring it up for concurrence in the Senate during the fall veto session.

After years of work, these much needed changes are closer than ever to becoming a reality.

Our state faces many challenges, but we see LLC reform as a real opportunity to display how government can work when elected officials from both sides of the aisle come together. It's time for Springfield to go beyond the platitudes and take real action in support of the small business community -- often lauded, but overlooked when it counts.

• Kimberly Brisky is the director of communications and public affairs for the Small Business Advocacy Council.