Gusto’s Advocacy For Entrepreneurs

Steve Abbott

New business formation is the engine of our economy and at Gusto our products help our customers manage today and our advocacy unlocks opportunities for them to grow. Gusto listens to the pain points of small businesses and their employees, and we focus our advocacy on policies that eradicate customer pain.  We amplify their voices with policymakers so they can focus on growing their business.

The pandemic was an uncanny disruption to “normal” business and life, however the unprecedented fiscal stimulus through Paycheck Protection Loans, Employee Retention Tax Credits, increased unemployment benefits, direct payments, and other relief programs kept the economy afloat and set us for a robust recovery.  Truly, one of the silver linings of the pandemic was the record new business starts we saw in 2020 and 2021, and our survey data shows that women, and entrepreneurs of color were the ones to lead this renewed spirit of entrepreneurship.   

Small businesses are facing new headwinds as we transition past the pandemic in labor shortages, inflationary pressures, and supply chain disruptions. Surveys allow us to understand the needs of our customers to grow their businesses and we design our advocacy in response to their pain points. 

The results of this survey clearly show that our customers need additional funds (through tax credits or government grants/loans) in order to succeed, and Gusto is advocating for policy change at both the Federal and State level to put more money back into the pockets of employers.  

$50 billion in Research & Development (R&D) tax credits are available each year for businesses that invest in research and development. Many SMBs are eligible for the R&D tax credit, but very few know about it or are unsure how to claim it.  

Last year, Gusto acquired Ardius, a company that helps businesses find hundreds of thousands of dollars in R&D Tax Credits through AI powered technology.  Gusto + Ardius allows our customers to easily and fully realize this credit, and we support the American Innovation and Jobs Act to expand the R&D Credit to encourage more support for innovation from small businesses and startups.

Addressing labor shortages is a major issue, and the Work Opportunity Tax Credit (WOTC) can help employers with money to hire workers from targeted groups such as ex-felons and diabled people.  WOTC is a Federal tax credit, but some States are proposing to create an additional credit, and Gusto is supporting those efforts, and we have been actively involved in California’s effort to expand WOTC.  

The Small Business Administration’s Community Advantage Program provides loans, management and technical assistance to small businesses in underserved markets through Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFIs) and other mission-oriented lenders and organizations to promote economic development.  Gusto has advocated for an expansion to this program to address traditional disparities in access to capital for women and minority entrepreneurs.

Entrepreneurs have led our economy through the pandemic and will continue to lead us through the recovery, and Gusto will advocate relentlessly for the support they need to grow and thrive.

Steve Abbott is the Head of Public Policy and Government Affairs for Gusto. In his role, he leads a cross functional team that designs and executes a public policy strategy that advocates for a robust ecosystem for small business formation and growth, and promotes employee financial health and wellness. Prior to Gusto, Steve spent 10 years at the Pew Charitable Trusts leading government relations for projects focused on promoting family economic stability. Steve also has experience working for Congress and was a consultant to Fortune 500 companies and non-profit organizations advising them on public policy. Steve holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Economics from Denison University and an MBA from the University of Maryland.
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