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Senator Hassan Introduces Bill to Boost Capital Access for Rural Businesses and Women-Owned Businesses

PROGRESS Act Would Create Two New Tax Incentives to Help Small Businesses Hire and Grow

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Maggie Hassan, a member of the Senate Finance Committee, today introduced legislation with Committee Chair Ron Wyden (D-OR) to expand rural and women entrepreneurs’ access to capital. The bill builds on Senator Hassan’s successful effort to provide support to new businesses in the American Rescue Plan.


“Our economy and communities are stronger when entrepreneurs can turn their innovative ideas into reality and open new businesses, but women and rural entrepreneurs disproportionately face barriers to starting and growing their small businesses,” said Senator Hassan. “This bill will help women and rural entrepreneurs access the capital and hire the employees that they need for their small businesses to thrive. I look forward to working with my colleagues to move this bill forward and continue supporting the small businesses that are the bedrock of New Hampshire communities.”


The Providing Real Opportunities for Growth to Rising Entrepreneurs for Sustained Success Act (PROGRESS) would create two new tax incentives, a first employee and investor credit:


First Employee Credit:

  • A new first employee credit will stimulate business growth and job creation.
  • A credit equal to 25 percent of W-2 wages reported can be claimed annually, up to $10,000 in a single tax year, with a lifetime limit of $40,000.
  • Because many businesses do not turn a profit in their early years, the first employee credit is creditable against the business’ payroll tax liability.
  • Certain businesses that have not reported full-time equivalent W-2 wages in a previous year are eligible for the credit.
  • Eligible businesses must be majority owned by U.S. individual(s) that each earn $100,000 or less per year ($200,000 in the case of joint filers).


Investor Credit:

  • A new investment credit will encourage third-party capital investment and allow small businesses to grow and thrive. 
  • A credit of up to 50 percent of a qualified debt or equity investment can be claimed, up to $10,000 in a single tax year, with a lifetime limit of $50,000.
  • Investors that fund certain businesses can use the credit to boost their rate of return.
  • Eligible businesses must have at least 1 full-time equivalent employee and be majority owned by U.S. individual(s) that each earn $100,000 or less per year ($200,000 in the case of joint filers).


The First Employee Credit builds on the bipartisan bill that Senator Hassan successfully worked to include in the American Rescue Plan that enables new businesses to utilize the Employee Retention Tax Credit. This tax credit enables small businesses to hire and retain employees by providing advance payments covering payroll and health care expenses. In the December COVID-19 relief and government funding package, Senator Hassan successfully pushed to expand the Employee Retention Tax Credit so that businesses can both access this credit and receive a Paycheck Protection Program loan.