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This is reprinted from Josh Silverman, CEO of Etsy. it is an open letter to congress about the needs of sole proprietors, consultants, the self–employed, GIG workers – the 57 million Americans who are a business of one – and 80% of them are women. As Congress considers assistance for businesses, and individuals impacted by the Coronavirus pandemic, extending unemployment or TDI will not impact those who have taken advantage of the American spirit of entrepreneurialism and going out on their own. “Our” needs are very different. Feel free to copy this and send it off to congress, to use the information here to write your own letters or make your own phone calls. If you are among the 57 million, take action – now – because there is no cushion coming for us unless we fight for it.
COVID-19 has up ended life for many of us,
creating uncertainty for our families, our creative businesses, and the broader
economy. Today, I sent Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and House Leader
Nancy Pelosi a letter urging them to ensure that any future COVID-19 relief
package includes our nation’s microbusinesses and the self-employed.
This group of 57 million hardworking
individuals are largely not covered by the current proposals on the
table from Congress, so Etsy is urging lawmakers to take action to protect
microbusinesses and self-employed Americans who are acutely impacted by the
effects of the outbreak.
Together, these reforms would ensure that
Etsy sellers can weather the immediate threat of the coronavirus pandemic,
along with the longer-term threat of economic downturn. I invite you to read
the letter and stand with our nation’s microbusinesses:
Dear Majority Leader McConnell and Madame
In the face of the rapid spread of
COVID-19, lawmakers are rightly focused on sending immediate aid and support to
our most vulnerable businesses and workers. Yet one vulnerable
group—microbusinesses and the self-employed—are notably absent from the
Etsy represents 2.7 million creative
entrepreneurs, 83% of whom are women and nearly all of whom run one person
businesses out of their homes. As sole proprietors, they do not qualify for
many social safety net programs, including unemployment insurance, disability
insurance, or paid leave. Neither will they benefit from much of the important
relief the U.S. government has already promised to workers and small business
owners, including low-interest rate loans, emergency leave, or expanded
unemployment protection. Yet, these businesses are among our most vulnerable to
this current crisis, as they lack the financial resources to weather an
unexpected decline in sales and have no way to run their business should they
Etsy sellers are not alone. All told,
more than 57 million people work independently in the United States. * Together,
they comprise the emerging gig economy. These microbusiness, independent
contractors, and self-employed individuals need an economic recovery package to
help stem hardship due to COVID-19. Unfortunately, many of the proposals
currently under discussion would not help these entrepreneurs. For example,
they would not qualify for expansions of social benefits tied to employment,
nor the disaster relief programs that target small businesses.
To meet this urgent need, we urge you to
ensure that microbusinesses and the self-employed are a key part of any
economic recovery package through the following means:
Direct assistance – While the paid leave credit included in the most
recent coronavirus relief package will certainly help the self-employed, it will
not cover many of the costs they currently face. In addition to the direct
payments currently under discussion for all Americans, Congress should create a
supplementary direct assistance program for the self-employed and
microbusinesses to help cover the cost of lost business, paid sick leave,
individual health care costs, and fixed expenses.
Unemployment protection – The self-employed are not eligible for unemployment
protection. The federal government should immediately fund an unemployment
protection fund for the self-employed and gig workers, which would allow them
to receive benefits in the event of declining income due to decreased demand
for their goods or services.
Business-critical services – Etsy sellers depend on critical e-commerce infrastructure,
including financial services, shipping, and internet connectivity. The federal
government should ensure that these essential services remain fully
operational, even as the public and private sectors take greater measures to
contain the spread of the virus.
Tax and debt deferral – We fully support deferring the April 15 deadline for
federal tax returns and suggest expanding that deferral to include the
subsequent two quarterly tax payment deadlines, which place a significant
financial burden on the self-employed. We also urge the government to negotiate
deferred mortgage and credit card payments for self-employed microbusinesses,
who often operate out of their homes and use personal credit cards to fund
Earned Income Tax Credit – The Earned Income Tax Credit is an important
source of income protection that already works equally well for gig workers and
traditional employees. Congress should expand EITC by increasing the income
threshold, including younger and childless workers, and eliminating the
marriage penalty. Lawmakers should also allow it to be calculated and
administered on a quarterly basis, which would better support individuals
struggling to manage short-term income volatility.
Disaster Relief – Many of the government’s disaster relief programs
simply do not work for the self-employed. Congress should appropriate funds for
a Self-Employment Assistance Fund within the EDA’s Economic Adjustment
Assistance and SBA’s Disaster Relief Loan programs and require these agencies
to quickly issue guidance enabling the self-employed to access these programs.
Taken together, these reforms would
dramatically ease the burdens faced by Etsy sellers, as well as the millions of
independent contractors, self-employed individuals, and microbusiness who are
driving the broader gig economy. At a time of so much uncertainty, let’s not
leave our most vulnerable entrepreneurs behind.
Josh Silverman CEO, Etsy