Fact Check: Is Donald Trump a small business?
October 5, 2012 -- Updated 1632 GMT (0032 HKT)
- Obama says Trump is a small business under Romney plan
- The government defines small business as having under 500 workers
(CNN) -- President Barack Obama invoked Donald Trump's name during Wednesday's presidential debate, claiming that GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney would consider the mogul's empire a small business.
"Under Governor Romney's definition, there are a whole bunch of millionaires and billionaires who are small businesses," President Obama said. "Donald Trump is a small business. Now, I know Donald Trump doesn't like to think of himself as small anything -- but that's how you define small businesses if you're getting business income."
While there is no universally accepted definition of a small business, the federal government defines it as any business that employs fewer than 500 people.
The Trump Organization employs 22,000 people. But Trump also runs a number of other companies that employ fewer than 500, meaning that -- under the federal government's definition -- he qualifies as a small business.
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According to the U.S. Small Business Administration, which uses the 500-worker maximum in its definition, such firms employ half of all private-sector workers and pay 44% of the total U.S. private payroll. In 2009, there were 27.5 million businesses in the nation, 99.7% of which were small firms.
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IRS data on the highest-income people in the country underscores that small business does not necessarily mean small profits. Of the top 400 people — who got $19.8 billion in S corporation and partnership net income in 2009 — 237 count as small businesses.
An analysis by the Urban Institute-Brookings Tax Policy Center finds that extending tax cuts for people who make more than $250,000 per year ($200,000 for single filers) would disproportionately help the richest taxpayers: 82% of the cut would go to people with more than $1 million in adjusted gross income, who would get an average tax cut of $164,000 apiece.
Romney's plan does not single out small businesses for special treatment. His plan attempts to lower taxes on all businesses -- big or small.
Conclusion: While Romney's plan does not define who is or is not a small business, some of Donald Trump's companies would qualify as a small business because they have fewer than 500 employees.
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CNNMoney's Small Business Reporter Jose Pagliery and CNN's Diane Laposta contributed to this report
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