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Washington D.C.-Women who own their own businesses and owners of home-based businesses told Wyoming U.S. Senator Mike Enzi and other members of the Small Business Committee Thursday of their frustration with current tax and business laws.

The small business owners asked members of the panel to help put some common sense into the regulations. They mentioned rules that bar them from tax deduction of health and other types of insurance like larger businesses, regulations that are contradictory of other agency regulations and rules that heap needless paperwork over every inch of their desks.

Enzi, who formerly operated his own small business, vowed to work for elimination of the harmful regulation the panel witnesses talked about.

"It is time to be fair to small business. All the technical assistance and loan guarantees in the world cannot overcome unfair tax treatment and disproportionately burdensome regulations," he said. "We have our work cut out for us. Today's hearing is a good start."

Enzi specifically has his eye on health insurance tax deductions for women proprietors and other small business owners.

"I look forward to working on the self-employed deduction for health insurance," said Enzi. "We should end our current two-tiered system that discriminates against the self-employed."

Enzi, who also serves on the Labor and Human Resources Committee, explained how the current definition of "independent contractor" could hurt the most innocent of victims, paper carriers. -more-

"It doesn't help that our labor and tax laws can be contradictory. I am curious to know the wisdom behind policies that allow the IRS to define 'independent contractor' for tax purposes and the Department of Labor to define it for regulatory purposes with little or no coordination of criteria," said Enzi. "By virtue of our current laws, can an 'independent contractor' also be an 'employee', depending on which agency is regulating his or her activity? Clearly, we need to agree on a definition for this term. The paper boys and girls of today are counting on us. The last bastion of new entrepreneurs needs our help. We need to clarify this law."

Paper carriers and their employers are troubled by an IRS rule, which may define them as employees rather than independent contractors. This comes at great expense to the small newspaper, which may opt not to have paper carriers at all, leaving kids with no job and subscribers with a bare doorstep.

Enzi said 76 percent of mothers with school-age children work. Of two-parent households 63 percent report that both parents work outside the home-- in many cases, one works to pay the bills, while the other works to pay taxes.

"We have got to pass legislation that is friendly to women entrepreneurs and the owners of home-based businesses. In the last 10 years, the federal government has added enough paperwork that businesses of 25 people have had to add at least one more person just to keep up with it, unfortunately businesses with five people have just as much paperwork, but can't afford to hire another person," he said. "When I was in business I was always surprised at the amount of work to be done that seemed to have nothing to do with my work."

Enzi also touted legislation he co-sponsored, the Family Friendly Workplace Act, which allows employees more flexibility in taking time off to spend with their family.