Press Releases

WASHINGTON – U.S. Sens. Mark Warner (D-VA) and Susan Collins (R-ME) introduced the SIMPLE Plan Modernization Act, a bipartisan bill to provide small business employers and employees greater flexibility and access to the popular SIMPLE plans as an option for retirement savings. The legislation has the backing of the AARP.  

Congress established SIMPLE (Savings Incentive Match Plan for Employees) retirement plans in the Small Business Job Protection Act of 1996 to encourage small businesses to provide their employees with retirement plans. However, retirement plans among small employers continue to be less commonly offered than those provided by medium and large employers. While these smaller businesses had access to tax-favored retirement savings plans, including traditional 401(k)s, those plans are more expensive to administer.

“The changing nature of work has redefined the employee-employer dynamic, making it harder for small businesses to offer traditional safety net protections for workers,” said Sen. Warner. “We should make it easier for small business owners and their employees to begin saving for their retirement. This legislation is one step towards helping the American workforce prepare for the future.”

“In my home state of Maine, the vast majority of businesses are eligible to sign their employees up for SIMPLE Plans.  Financial advisors from Presque Isle to Portland have shared their concerns that neither employees nor their employers are in a good position to save for retirement,” said Sen. Collins. “We must give small businesses and employees a better opportunity to save for retirement, and this legislation will provide such an opportunity.”

Businesses with 100 or fewer employees may currently create SIMPLE retirement savings accounts for their employees, so long as the employers do not have another employer-sponsored retirement plan.

The proposed legislation would increase the contribution limit for SIMPLE plans. Increasing the limit would achieve two basic goals: 1) Motivate more small business employers to offer a retirement savings benefit to their employees and 2) Allow small business employees to save even more each year on a tax-deferred basis. 

The SIMPLE Plan Modernization Act would: 

  1. Raise the contribution limit for SIMPLE plans from $12,500 to $15,500 (halfway between current SIMPLE plans and traditional 401(k)s) for the smallest businesses (1 to 25 employees), with a corresponding increase in the catch-up limit from $3,000 to $4,500.
  2. Give businesses with 26 to 100 employees the option of the higher contribution limits, and, in order to continue to encourage them to transition to 401(k)s when they can do so, increase their SIMPLE plan mandatory employer contribution requirements by one percentage point if they elect the higher limits. 
  3. Allow for a reasonable transition period for employers who hire additional employees above 25.
  4. Make the limit increases unavailable if the employer has had another defined contribution plan within the past three years (to encourage businesses that already have qualified plans to retain them).
  5. Modernize SIMPLE plan form filing requirements and modify the transition rules from SIMPLE plans to traditional plans to facilitate and encourage such transitions.
  6. Direct Treasury to study the use of SIMPLE plans and report to Congress on such use, along with any recommendations.

Sen. Warner has been a leader in finding solutions to the 21st century generational and technological changes that have led to perhaps the most dramatic transformation in the American economy in decades. He has introduced legislation that encourages employers to invest more in quality skills training for their workers. In addition, he has proposed a bill that would test-drive programs that provide contingent workers with “portable benefits” that have many of the social insurance protections typically offered to workers through traditional full-time employment.

 

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WASHINGTON – Today, U.S. Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-VA) released the following statement after the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) issued a report that for the first time in years provided a snapshot of the contingent and alternative worker population.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Contingent Worker and Alternative Work Arrangement Supplement (CWS) to the Current Population Survey (CPS)  is considered the gold standard of measuring who is doing what in the American workforce, but data about the size and scope of the contingent workforce had not been collected since 2005 after its funding was eliminated. Since then, the federal government had struggled to keep up with an explosion in new technology and changes to the nature of work that have increased the range of opportunities for workers to pursue flexible arrangements. In the Senate, Sen. Warner led the charge in restoring funding to help collect this data and requesting the Department of Labor to relaunch the survey that culminated in this report.

 “The federal government and the general public have lacked for many years reliable data to help paint a clear picture of our contingent workforce and their future. Without this crucial information, policymakers and experts are in the dark about the size and needs of this population, making it harder to find common ground on solutions that will help them navigate our intricate labor market. For this reason, I urged the federal government to re-establish these best practices and issue this report, which will help provide us with a direct understanding of what this part of our workforce looks like.

“Today’s news show that contingent workers play a significant role in our economy, with tens of millions of Americans - more than one in ten workers - identified as independent contractors, temps, and contract-firm workers. An while the data shows that there’s been a downward shift in the number of people who rely on contingent work as their main job, we still don’t know how many of them do so in order to supplement their income. Without this crucial piece of data, it will be tough for us to make an accurate assessment of the best way to help this dynamic segment of workers receive more training and resources, access a system of portable benefits they can carry from job to job, and file their taxes and claim deductions and credits. I will continue pushing the federal government and outside experts to fill-in these gaps and provide a full picture of this part of our workforce, and expect to seek more information on the tax challenges of these workers in the near future.”    

For years, Sen. Warner has been urging the federal government to collect better, more complete data on the number and type of workers who are part of the contingent workforce economy. Estimates of the contingent labor force range from a few percentage points to nearly a third of the American labor force engaging in some type of independent work arrangement. 

Last year, Sen. Warner introduced bipartisan legislation to test and evaluate innovative portable-benefits models for independent workers. He is also the author of bipartisan legislation aimed at increasing the availability of job training to lower- and moderate-income workers, in an effort to stay on top of the rapidly changing technology and skills requirements for today’s workforce.

 

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WASHINGTON – U.S. Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-VA), a member of the Senate Banking Committee, released the following statement after the Senate voted 67-31 to pass S. 2155, the Economic Growth, Regulatory Relief, and Consumer Protection Act:  

“The bipartisan Economic Growth, Regulatory Relief and Consumer Protection Act that the Senate passed today will provide meaningful relief to Main Street. It will roll back unnecessary and burdensome regulations on credit unions and small community banks while ensuring that larger banks remain subject to the rules I helped put in place after the financial crisis. This bill is the result of years of tough negotiations between Democrats and Republicans and will help small lenders provide mortgages and other credit to hardworking Virginians and small businesses. While this bill does not include everything Democrats wanted nor everything Republicans wanted, I’m proud of my colleagues for putting differences aside, finding common ground, and passing this bipartisan legislation. The House of Representatives should move swiftly to take up and pass this sensible, bipartisan bill.”

 

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WASHINGTON — U.S. Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-VA), a member of the Senate Finance and Budget Committees, issued the below statement after the Senate voted along party lines 51-48 to approve the budget-busting GOP plan to cut taxes for corporations and the richest Americans:

“This is the worst piece of legislation we have passed since I arrived in the Senate.”

Nonpartisan analyses released yesterday confirm the final Trump-Republican tax bill will hike taxes on millions of middle-class Americans in order to pay for massive cuts for corporations and the wealthiest Americans. By 2027, under the Trump-Republican tax bill, families earning under $75,000 would pay more in taxes than they do today – while the top 1 percent would enjoy the largest tax breaks, according to the Joint Committee on Taxation (JCT).

And the Tax Policy Center estimated that 53 percent of American households will face tax hikes in 2027 while the top 0.1 percent of taxpayers will get an average tax cut of nearly $200,000. The top one percent of taxpayers are expected to receive 83 percent of tax benefits.  

On top of this, the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget estimated that the true cost of the final, unpaid-for GOP tax bill is roughly $2.5 trillion, adding to our $20 trillion national debt. 

The bill now heads back to the House of Representatives, where it is expected to pass and be sent to the President for his signature without a single Democratic vote.

 

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WASHINGTON—Today, U.S. Sens. Mark R. Warner (D-VA) and Rob Portman (R-OH) introduced the bipartisan Commonsense Reporting Act of 2017 to streamline and modernize employer reporting requirements under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA). This legislation would strike a balance between ensuring the Treasury Department has the necessary data to determine availability of affordable coverage, while cutting down on unnecessary paperwork and administrative costs for businesses.

The ACA requires employers and insurers to report information about health insurance coverage to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) at the end of the tax year. The legislation directs the Treasury Department to implement an alternative, prospective reporting system that is more workable and less burdensome for employers than current regulations.

“This legislation couples important data collection with the flexibility and efficiency employers need to continue implementing the law,” said Sen. Warner. “It’s time to find common ground with serious legislative efforts that provide more affordable, accessible, and quality health care to all Americans, regardless of where they purchase their coverage. Americans deserve better – hopefully this is the first step of many bipartisan solutions.” 

“I have heard from hundreds of employers in Ohio that have spent hundreds of administrative hours attempting to comply with the reporting requirements in the Affordable Care Act. This added time and resources has not improved the quality of health insurance employers offered but only further discouraged employers from offering health insurance and hiring more workers. This bipartisan bill will help streamline the reporting process by allowing employers to report information to the IRS prospectively, easing the burden for employers and employees,” said Sen. Portman.

The Commonsense Reporting Act streamlines this process by establishing a voluntarily system which would allow employers to report pertinent information before open enrollment begins, to minimize the administrative burden at the back-end, and limit the collection of unneeded information.

The Commonsense Reporting Act has been endorsed by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, America’s Health Insurance Plans, Retail Industry Leaders Association, American Hotel and Lodging Association, American Rental Association, American Staffing Association, National Association of Convenience Stores, National Association of Health Underwriters, National Association of Home Builders, National Association of Wholesaler-Distributors, National Business Group on Health, National Federation of Independent Business, National Grocers Association, National Restaurant Association, National Retail Federation, NATSO for America’s Truck and Travel Stops.

A summary of this legislation can be found here. The full text is also available here

 

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Warner & Kaine Reintroduce Small Business Legislation, The Marketplace Fairness Act

"Small businesses are being forced to compete on an uneven playing field. Local, brick-and-mortar business collect sales taxes from their customers – but many large, online vendors do not."

Apr 28 2017

"Small businesses are being forced to compete on an uneven playing field. Local, brick-and-mortar business collect sales taxes from their customers – but many large, online vendors do not."

Sens. Warner, Moran, Rubio & Coons Introduce Startup Jobs Proposal

~ Bipartisan ‘Startup Act 2.0’ addresses tax & regulatory policies, STEM visas and R&D ~

May 22 2012

Senators Mark R. Warner (D-Va.), Jerry Moran (R-Kan.) Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) and Chris Coons (D-Del.) today introduced bipartisan legislation, Startup Act 2.0, to help jumpstart the economy through the creation and growth of new businesses and jobs. It is based upon research showing that for close to three decades, companies less than five years old have created almost all of the net new jobs in America.