Tech Talk: Life After Unicorns

Editor’s note: Author Christian Beck is principal design partner at Innovatemap. This is excerpted from a more extensive post on “5 Trends Transforming the World of Venture Capital.” 

As a designer with no formal business training, I could be the last person qualified to write about the world of venture capital (VC). However, over the last several years of working with dozens of start-ups seeking seed funding and scale-ups pitching for Series A, I’ve taken it upon myself to learn the language.

To learn more about investing, I highly recommend Neil Murray’s newsletter, Series F. But for those start-ups trying to get a handle on macro-level trends in the world of VC, I am going to share how I see it from an outsider’s perspective.

One helpful piece of context is that my VC education is driven largely by witnessing first-hand how these firms work in the Midwest, contrasting with what I read from the SF-area firms. As with most things tech, Silicon Valley is the most mature market and often provides a glimpse of the future for other emerging markets. It’s also true that emerging markets can learn from the missteps of those pioneers and chart different paths.

I’ve been following a few trends in venture capital that I think are exciting and possibly transformative. One of those is zebras.

“Zebra” is a term created to contrast the unicorn, which has typically referred to companies valued at $1 billion or more. Zebras represent companies that are profitable, sustainable, and beneficial to society. As I’ve been digging into this trend, I can see the need to insert a new metaphor in the start-up world.

zebra

Unicorns are being chased at all costs, and it’s had a negative effect on entrepreneurs. What may start as an idealistic passion to change the world can easily get bastardized into chasing user acquisition, monthly recurring revenue (MRR) and hockey stick growth … at any cost.

At the heart of this is the notion that VC firms are chasing 10x returns. I’m no financial analyst, but that seems a bit like overkill. You might want to be Lebron, but if you could settle with playing in the NBA, you’d probably be just as happy.

And that’s what is really behind the Zebra trend: a reality check that every start-up doesn’t need to be a unicorn. Indie.vc proves this with a long list of companies they fund and other companies that have scaled based on revenue rather than funding (also note how simple their own web site is: the zebra mentality is carried through top to bottom).

It’s not that becoming a unicorn is inherently bad, but the mentality to get there can create a series of bad decisions that lead to failed products like the Juicero – a SaaS-based juice start-up – when simply making a better juicer would’ve been sufficient.

What it means for the Midwest

The Zebra trend is particularly relatable to Midwest tech hubs that are trying to evolve older industries like agriculture and manufacturing. Creating unicorns is less attractive than creating strong companies with the goal of establishing a healthy local economy. Pumping start-ups with cash in hopes of a 10x return may be fun in the short-term, but it doesn’t provide long-term stability and healthy growth.

Ultimately, tech products should solve problems, but businesses should help local economies. Nowhere is this more pronounced than the Rust Belt. Here, it’s less important to roll the dice on unicorns and more important to establish strong companies that strengthen local economies. As the Rust Belt continues to emerge as a key player in the tech industry, this trend will become the norm.

Takeaways for start-ups

Focus on jobs over profits: Maybe it’s just the Heartland in me, but I tend to believe that while tech companies can service customers around the world, they can still have a local impact. The Fortune 500 is full of companies that grew slowly, created long-term value for investors and provided amazing places to work. Tech doesn’t need to be different. SaaS products can still grow by focusing on employees as much as they do their profits.

Set realistic revenue targets: The path to healthy growth starts with realistic targets. Given enough time and creativity, every start-up can plot a path to unicorn-land and often VC’s may feel the same way. But setting realistic expectations early on will lead to better product decisions down the road. Ultimately, you may find that early on you might have more revenue-based growth opportunity than you realize and wait to take on more investment (if at all).

Emojis Here, Emojis There, Emojis Everywhere … Even in Business?

I was recently working from home when my six-year-old wandered over to the computer to see what I was doing (and to see if she could worm her way into the chair to play games).

“Are you writing an email?” she asked me.

I told her I was posting to our company Facebook page. She doesn’t understand what that means yet, but I knew what her next question would be (and I was right): “Are you going to put an emoji on it?”

I tried to explain what “professional setting” meant. She got bored and walked away.

She knows little of the internet and social media, but she knows email and she knows emojis. And who can blame her? Emojis are fun to use in text messages and emails to your family and friends.

Ironically, a few hours later this article from Forbes caught my eye, “How Emojis Have Made Their Way Into Business :-)”.

Read the full article for a bit of emoji history, but this section was what stuck with me:

Ad technology companies like Emogi and Snaps are at the forefront of using emoji marketing to prove measurable ROI. When IKEA wanted to be top of mind as people discussed shopping for college, they worked with Emogi to create and send custom IKEA stickers to consumers who expressed interest for the brand, talked about going back to school, or used positive emojis.

The campaign was a success: People actively engaged with IKEA’s custom stickers more than 25,000 times and included the custom stickers in college conversations more often than traditional school-related emojis.

Messaging marketing platform Snaps also helps brands manage and measure their emoji and sticker ad campaigns by tracking how emoji usage increases campaign shares and views. “We can show it drives scale and real ROI and that the media buy has been effective,” Christian Brucculeri, CEO of Snaps told Digiday, “A low six-figure investment can deliver millions in media value.”

Emoji ROI? I wouldn’t personally put a lot of stock in using emojis in your everyday business correspondence, but as a social media manager I have indeed used emojis on sporadic, appropriate occasions (mostly on Instagram). I’ll have to keep an eye out for emoji ROI in the future.

(Insert winky face here.)

Winky face emoji businessman

Keeping Small Businesses in Business Through Crowdfunding

When I find a business that provides a product or service I love, I want to share it with the world because I want my family and friends to have a great experience and (a bit self-servingly, I’ll admit) because I want the business to continue existing so that I can continue being a customer.

To that end, if a favorite local business was in need of a cash infusion to fight off a takeover or to survive a financial hardship or a health crisis, I’d be willing to support the business. Would others be willing to do that? It seems likely. Crowdfunding via the internet is a medium to which more small business owners are turning in times of trouble.

On its face, the idea of a business – which is essentially designed to make money by selling its product or service – needing money from customers without exchanging those products or services is a bit absurd. Businesses fail for various reasons and getting close to closing down doesn’t necessarily instill confidence in the business owner’s capability.

But that’s a cynical viewpoint. Sometimes stuff just happens.

Crowdfunding small business

Communities can rally around their local small businesses. While crowdfunding is more traditionally used to launch new businesses or creations, small business owners are pursuing crowdfunding to raise money for survival. Some raise enough money; others attempt and fail.

This article from Entrepreneur highlights the stories of several small business owners, including a Brooklyn-based bar that needed money to survive a hurricane and then a protracted family dispute; and this story about a Philadelphia-based book store:

One of these businesses is Philly’s Black and Nobel, one of the last remaining black-owned independent bookstores in the country. Earlier this year, founder Hakim Hopkins was on the verge of shutting down the hulking, 14-year-old shop. Book sales were down, and the bulk of Black and Nobel’s revenue – currently about three-quarters, Hopkins says – came from shipping books to prison inmates, a business that can be run without a pricey brick-and-mortar location. “That’s why we’re still here. They’re still reading in prison. They still have time,” he says.

There was only one problem with Hopkins’ plan to wind down the business: His customers wouldn’t let him. “I’ve been fighting for the past few years to keep the doors open. The younger people were like, ‘No! This place saved my life!’”

So in June, he launched an ambitious $250,000 campaign on GoFundMe to keep Black and Nobel’s doors open and maintain the bookstore’s vital role as an event space, supporter of independent black writers and artists, and community hub. The campaign has gotten plenty of local press, and support from a few high-­profile local artists and athletes. But by the three-month mark, Black and Nobel raised just shy of $10,000, a far cry from what Hopkins was seeking.

At a glance, the Black and Nobel campaign appears doomed. But Hopkins says he’s just getting started. He is planning a neighborhood block party to raise more funds, and he wants to launch a series of promotional videos. “I’m not just gonna brush it off after six months,” he says.

If he can make it to the $250,000 goal, Hopkins has big plans: buying his own building, renovating and expanding the bookstore space, buying a tour bus to put Black and Nobel’s programming on wheels and take it around the country. And although the campaign has a long way to go, he’s heartened by the progress he’s made. “Mainly we started it to keep up with rent,” he says. “It’s getting to the point now where I feel like we’re going to be open, because we do have people who care.”

Promoting the fund-raising campaign is a bit like having a second job, Hopkins says – a sentiment shared by many campaign founders. “It’s very draining. It’s like begging. And I’m an earner,” he says. Hopkins, who started his business as a street vendor with a table and a box of books, says he’s never had a bank loan, or even a credit card. Every dollar he spends on his business is a dollar he earned.

But Black and Nobel is too important to give up without a fight, he says. He’s watched elementary school kids who saw the bookstore as a haven grow up and graduate from college, and he feels his store made a difference in their lives.

“We helped build the community,” he says. “It’s more than a bookstore.”

Americans Looking Toward Italy

Manarola Italy (cinque terre)

A brief Google search reveals there is no clear definition of what is “luxury travel.” Nevertheless, Travel Leaders Group (self-described as one of North America’s leading travel companies) says those seeking the luxury experiences are eyeing Italy, as well as European cruises.

Its latest survey of travel agents reveals:

  • Among the top destinations for luxury travel in the coming 12 months, Italy leads the way, followed by European river cruises, Mediterranean cruises and the United States, respectively.  
  • In addition, 92.6% of the agent experts surveyed state that their luxury travel bookings are higher than or on par with this time last year, a marked increase from the 84% of agents last year.

Ireland made it into the top five this year, and the upwardly-trending Iceland came in at number 10. Jamaica, South Africa and New Zealand were also among the top 15 destinations affluent clientele are seeking for vacations, according to Travel Leaders Group’s luxury travel agents.

Just more than 34% of agents said that Italy is the top vacation spot for their luxury travelers. River cruises in Europe are the second-most favorite destination for luxury travelers, with 22% of the agents saying their clients are booking or inquiring about this option.

“River cruises are the best option for seeing Italy or other parts of Europe, especially for active and adventure clients who also want to feel pampered. From the moment they step on board, the crew already knows their name. There are also bikes and kayaks available for those who want an immersive experience,” said Missy Skoog, a luxury travel specialist in Blaine, Minnesota. “Clients who are also seeking fine dining experiences and river cruises have some of the top most skilled chefs. Additionally, the suites are large, there is butler service and one can take excursions to several small villages and cities without needing to unpack over and over.”

Third-place Mediterranean cruises are also popular with luxury clients, with 18% of the agents saying their clients are booking or inquiring about this option.

Holiday Cards and the Workplace

writing greeting cards

Workplace question: Should I send a holiday card to my boss or other members of management? Reference-checking firm Allison & Taylor answers in the affirmative.

It offers reasons why and tips for doing it correctly.

Why a traditional greeting card is a good idea:

  • Connecting with your bosses (or a former boss) will help keep you top-of-mind in their awareness, translating to possible future support or opportunity.
  • Staying in touch with bosses and colleagues via a holiday card is a subtle yet highly effective form of networking.
  • Sending your bosses (also former bosses, colleagues, suppliers, etc.) a card demonstrates a personal touch to accompany your business relationship.
  • Staying in the favor of your prospective employment references (particularly former bosses) is critical to your future employment success.
  • Developing and maintaining positive relationships with your management team, co-workers and former bosses will ultimately be a cornerstone of success in your career.

Sending the right holiday greeting card:

While sending out holiday cards is almost certainly a good idea, even this generous gesture can backfire if the proper protocols aren’t observed. 

  • Choose a high-quality holiday card that allows no possibility of offending its recipient. Remember that not everyone celebrates Christmas – be mindful of religious and cultural nuances.
  • Choose a design that is appropriate for your business associates.
  • Keep your contact list accurate and up-to-date. Make sure you’re not sending a card to someone who has left the department or the company.
  • Check the spelling of your contacts and their corporate name. Any good points you’ll score with a holiday card will be lost if you misspell your contact’s name or corporate information.
  • Include one of your business cards inside the greeting card. This small insertion ensures that your recipients have your most current contact information and will reinforce your name with the card’s recipient.
  • Sign each card personally. It only takes a moment to sign your name and write a short greeting, and your business associates will notice and appreciate this more personal gesture.

FCC’s Official Net Neutrality Decision Coming This Week

On Thursday, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) will decide whether to overturn the Obama-era net neutrality regulations that currently govern the internet. It is highly anticipated they will decide to return to the pre-2015 regulations.

Net neutrality implies an open internet environment that internet service providers should enable access to all content and applications regardless of the source, and without favoring or blocking particular products or web sites.

The 2015 net neutrality laws reclassified high-speed broadband as a public utility under Title II of the 1934 Communications Act rather than the 1996 Telecom Act. These regulations applied to both mobile and fixed broadband networks. The reclassification changed how government treats broadband service and gave the FCC increased controls over internet service providers.

The office of FCC Chairman Ajit Pai recently issued this Myth vs. Fact statement on returning to the pre-2015 regulations. One issue the public is concerned with is if internet providers would block or “throttle back” certain content to the public. Another is if content developers would pay internet providers for accelerated data transfer. The bigger issue is whether internet providers can operate their businesses as businesses rather than as a public utility. Data show that private investment in internet services has slowed under the post-2015 regulations.

The Indiana Chamber supports free-market competition in the delivery of advanced communications services. The competition in a free-market environment among industry service providers is consistent with providing choice to consumers and an adequate service of last resort in extended service areas.

The Chamber opposes any attempt to impose new regulations on broadband and other next-generation telecommunications services by the FCC, especially through the unilateral reclassification of such services under Title II of the Federal Communications Act.  The Indiana Chamber supports the U.S. Congress examining and deciding issues such as net neutrality. We believe that advanced communications and digital infrastructure are critical to long-term economic development. Since 2006, private companies have invested more than $1.5 billion in new broadband capacity in the state, expanding service to more than 100 Hoosier communities and creating 2,100 new jobs within the industry.

If the FCC rules to return to the pre-2015 regulations, it is expected that Congress will entertain legislation to promote some of the concepts of net neutrality and limit the ability to stifle content.

Business Podcasts to Inform Your Commute

Radio

Who said video killed the radio star?

(Okay, some band from the late ’70s sang that phrase in a popular song that many associate with the rise of MTV.)

But the point is, radio never died. It is back and bigger than ever, thanks to a growing industry movement: the podcast.

With the ability to instantly stream or download radio programs on any number of topics, podcasting has invigorated audio listeners and broadcasters alike. Your phone most likely holds enough hours of programming to keep you awake for days bingeing everything from true crime (my personal favorite), to news and politics, health and wellness, music, pop culture, literature and business (and a whole lot more).

If you’re new to the podcast landscape, understand that you can access shows from just about any device that has an internet connection. There are plenty of apps to download to manage your podcast subscriptions, which makes it easier to know where you left off and what you’d like to save for the future.

EchoChamber

The Indiana Chamber of Commerce launched the EchoChamber podcast earlier this year, featuring conversations with Indiana leaders in business, education, government and more. New episodes are featured every other Tuesday and you can listen via the web site, www.indianachamber.com/echochamber, or subscribe wherever you get podcasts.

(If you listen, do us a favor and rate and review us on iTunes! It helps more people discover our content.)

Our most recent episode features Blair Milo, former LaPorte mayor (elected at age 28), Navy veteran and the state’s first Secretary of Career Connections and Talent. She discusses the challenge of aligning current workforce efforts and introducing new ones to tackle workforce issues in Indiana. Listen here.

There are other Indiana-focused business podcasts to tune into as well: Indiana Chamber President Kevin Brinegar has been featured on The ROI Podcast from the Kelley School of Business. And Inside INdiana Business recently launched a podcast of its own, focused on its weekly television show.

If you’re looking outside of Indiana-specific business podcasts, Fast Company recently listed 10 popular business podcasts to check out:

  1. “Startup,” Gimlet Media

No podcast better captures the thrills and struggles of launching a company. Created as a remarkably candid docuseries on the birth of podcasting business Gimlet Media, it now traces the surprising stories of other enterprises.

  1. “Planet Money,” NPR

This show – launched in 2008 to help explain the financial crisis – offers fascinating explorations of the intersection between economics and culture.

  1. “Working,” Panoply

Each installment starts with the same question: “What is your name and what do you do?” Guests then reveal details of their jobs, whether they’re a neurosurgeon, a novelist, a pollster, or a clown.

  1. “Above Avalon,” Above Avalon

A giant bite of Apple. Hosted by analyst and technology writer Neil Cybart, this show goes deep into all things Cupertino, with some of the most informed analysis you’re likely to find.

  1. “Brown Ambition,” Brown Ambition

Journalist Mandi Woodruff and personal-finance expert Tiffany Aliche chat about news, relationships, and other topics, but they’re especially incisive when discussing their successes and failures in the business world.

  1. “How I Built This,” NPR

This series explores backstories of various big businesses, from AOL to 1-800-GOT-JUNK. The storytelling is simple and linear, leaving space for gripping personal tales to emerge.

  1. “Eater Upsell,” Vox Media

Editors from culinary site Eater glean insight from chefs and other industry pros, both famous (Anthony Bourdain) and less so (cookbook photographer Evan Sung).

  1. “Exponent,” Exponent

Tech watchers Ben Thompson and James Allworth tackle topics of the moment – fake news on Facebook, Uber’s scandals – and offer broader discourse on where the digital world is headed.

  1. “I Hate My Boss,” Wondery

Former Nike and Oprah Winfrey Network marketing executive Liz Dolan and executive coach Larry Seal offer advice on your stickiest workplace conundrums.

  1. “Loose Threads,” Loose Threads

Focused on innovation and technology in the fashion industry, this podcast digs into notable developments in manufacturing, design, retail, and other areas.

What’s playing on your drive home? Share your favorite podcasts in the comments!

Tennessee to Offer Skills ‘Warranty’

Tennessee has drawn its share of higher education attention with its Promise program gaining national recognition. A new initiative seeks to further address workforce skills challenges.

The Times Free Press in Chattanooga has the details.

Beginning next fall, new graduates of the Tennessee College of Applied Technology (TCAT) or similar technical programs offering certificates and degrees from state community colleges will come with an eye-catching “warranty” for prospective employers.

If companies can demonstrate the graduates they hire aren’t up to snuff, “we’ll take them back and train them for free,” Tennessee Board of Regents Chancellor Flora Tydings told Gov. Bill Haslam.

Replied Haslam: “I love the idea. … That’s accountability at its finest.”

“It’s exactly what it sounds like,” Tydings told reporters. “If you do not have the skill set for which we say we have trained you, we’ll take you back and retrain you for free – if an employer documents that you do not have those skill sets within a year of graduation.”

Tydings said she doesn’t expect community colleges and TCAT to have to do much graduate retraining because of the job the institutions do.

promise

House and Senate Get Started on Tax Reform; Where Does Donnelly Stand?

Late last week, the House Ways and Means Committee concluded its markup of the GOP tax reform bill (the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act) and voted along party lines to move the measure, 24-16. The core of the House bill reduces the number of individual tax rates, slashes the corporate tax rate and eliminates many deductions and credits.

The bill now will be taken up by the full House of Representatives for debate and vote – likely before the Thanksgiving recess. What are some sensitive issues being discussed in the tax reform bill? Pass-throughs, adoption tax credits, deductibility of state and local taxes (SALT), excise tax and more.

The GOP can only lose 22 votes in the House and whip counts are being held very close to the vest – only five or six Republicans have publicly stated that they are against the bill in the current form (all due to SALT).

Meanwhile, the Senate decided on Thursday to release its own tax reform plan. From the business perspective, the differences largely are about adjusting the dollar dials and creating negotiation items. In other words, politics. The Senate option does delay some positive economic effects, but if that’s what it takes to get a permanent tax reduction in the books so be it! We do want to point out that there are some notable differences between the two versions, particularly on the individual side – including with the estate tax and mortgage deduction, which, again, serve to set up further negotiations.

Senator Todd Young welcomed the effort from the Senate Finance Committee.

“I’m encouraged by the Senate’s proposal to create a tax code that is simpler, fairer and allows hardworking Hoosiers to keep more of what they earn. I’m also glad that this proposal maintains the adoption tax credit that is important to so many Indiana families. As we continue to debate a final tax relief package, I will keep working to ensure Hoosier voices are heard.”

Meanwhile, Sen. Joe Donnelly, didn’t give away his stance: “As I have said, tax reform should create jobs, protect jobs, invest in American workers and benefit middle class families. I will carefully review the Senate proposal and continue to engage with my colleagues and the White House on behalf of Hoosiers as the Senate works on tax reform.”

Donnelly also met on Thursday with the White House Director of the National Economic Council Gary Cohn to discuss his tax reform priorities. Earlier last week, Donnelly participated in another such meeting with White House Director of Legislative Affairs Marc Short and Cohn. President Donald Trump called in for a portion of the event. In that meeting, Donnelly discussed his tax reform priorities and shared a letter that he also sent to Vice President Mike Pence on Tuesday emphasizing that the tax policies should align with the interests of American workers and support companies that invest in the U.S.

Donnelly’s priorities are consistent with his End Outsourcing Act, which would support companies that invest in American workers and penalize companies that ship American jobs to foreign countries.

The Hill reported late last week that “Blue Dog Democrats are lining up in firm opposition to the Republicans’ tax code overhaul, hoping that Tuesday’s election results (particularly in Virginia) will force GOP leaders to reach across the aisle for a bipartisan alternative.”

Donnelly, a Blue Dog Democrat, has not said anything of the kind publicly and has been heavily courted by the Trump administration for his vote.

Federal Tax Plan = Meaningful Cuts More Than Comprehensive Reform

The “Tax Cuts and Jobs Act” (H.R. 1) has finally arrived! The long-awaited details – over 400 pages worth – are now out there for all to debate. This is a debate that will play out before the House Republican Ways and Means Committee this week. Much of the public discourse will focus on how it impacts individuals, but for the business community it is the taxation of businesses, large and small, that is of the most significance.

The plan includes a reduction of the corporate rate from 35% to 20%, an important and meaningful step. It also caps the taxation of income derived from pass-throughs (S corporations, LLCs, partnerships and sole proprietorships) at 25%. Key provisions are outlined below. And if you are truly into tax law, the full bill is also available, as is a section-by-section summary.

Now you may note that this legislation is labeled a tax cut, not tax reform. And while many will call it that, it is probably better characterized as a tax cut bill. Cuts are good, and these measures will certainly be the impetus for some level of economic growth. But the trillion dollar questions remain: How much will it spur in gross domestic product (GDP) growth? And, can that realistically be enough to offset the projected reductions in tax collections?

Nobody can really know the answers to these politically-charged questions. But as you read the “scoring” of this legislation (to be published by the Congressional Budget Office after passage out of the House Ways and Means Committee), you may consider these items for context: the GDP growth rate in the United States averaged 3.22% from 1947 until 2017; GDP has pleasantly surprised people by breaking the 3% mark the last couple quarters; and the GDP will probably need to go a good bit higher to prevent the bill from adding substantially to the already staggering federal deficit. So listen for what growth rates are assumed in the projections that will be discussed and debated – and draw your own conclusions.

Key provisions affecting businesses

  • Reduces the corporate tax rate: The rate will drop to 20% from the current 35% and is designed to be permanent.
  • Establishes a repatriation tax rate: The repatriation rate on overseas assets for U.S. companies would be as high as 12%. The bill also may include a mandatory repatriation of all foreign assets. Illiquid assets would be taxed at a lower rate, spread out over a longer period than liquid assets like cash.
  • Creates a 25% rate for pass-through businesses: Instead of getting taxed at an individual rate for business profits, people who own their own business would pay at the so-called pass-through rate. (There will be some guardrails on what kinds of businesses can claim this rate to avoid individuals abusing the lower tax.)

Key provisions affecting individuals

  • Creates new individual income brackets:
    • 12% for income up to $45,000 for individuals and $90,000 for a married couple
    • 25% up to $200,000 individual/$260,000 couples
    • 35% up to $500,000 individual/$1 million couples
    • 6% over $500,000 individual/$1million couples
  • Caps state and local property tax deduction at $10,000, but does NOT cap income or sales tax deductions.
  • Eliminates the estate tax: The threshold for the tax, which applies only to estates with greater than $5.6 million in assets during 2018, would double to over $10 million; the plan then phases out the tax after six years.
  • Does NOT change taxation of 401(k) plans.
  • Increases the child tax credit to $1,600 from $1,000. The bill would also add a credit of $300 for each non-child dependent or parent for five years, after which that provision would expire.
  • Limits home mortgage interest deduction: On new-home purchases, interest on loans up to $500,000 would be deductible. (The current limit is $1 million.)
  • Nearly doubles the standard deduction: To avoid raising taxes on those currently in the 10% tax bracket, the standard deduction for all taxes would increase to $12,000 for individuals (up from $6,350) and $24,000 for married couples (up from $12,700).
  • Eliminates most personal itemized deductions and many credits. The only deductions preserved explicitly in the plan are for charitable gifts and edited home-mortgage interest.
  • Repeals the alternative minimum tax (AMT). The tax, which forces people who qualify because of an outsized number of deductions, would be eliminated under the legislation.

Full policy highlights of the bill can be found here.

Keep in mind this is the House’s plan and it will be subject to a different form of scrutiny in the Senate. So regardless all the prior coordination among those working together on this effort for months, some (perhaps many) things will change – they always do!

As for the timeline, it’s hard to say. But we do know that the House Ways and Means Committee will begin hearing amendments this week, and the process could take several days. A vote on the bill by the full House, as it is passed out of Ways and Means, is anticipated to come as early as November 13. From there it goes to the Senate Finance Committee, then full Senate. Optimists hope for something to pass before the end of the year. However, don’t be surprised if the debate isn’t carried over into the beginning of 2018.

Indiana’s delegation members are also weighing in with their views on the new tax bill. Chief among them is Congresswoman Jackie Walorski (IN-02), a member of the pivotal House Ways and Means Committee: “Hoosiers deserve every opportunity to achieve success and live the American Dream, and that’s what tax reform is all about. The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act will help American businesses expand, invest and hire more workers, and it will let middle-class families keep more of the money they earn. It’s time to fix our broken tax code and level the playing field for hardworking Americans by once again making America the best place in the world to do business.”

Resource: Bill Waltz at (317) 264-6887 or email: bwaltz@indianachamber.com