Coalition of Franchisee Associations Issues Statement on the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act

WASHINGTON, D.C. (November 6, 2017) – The Coalition of Franchisee Associations (CFA) applauds the introduction of H.R. 1, the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act. It’s time Congress takes on the difficult challenge of updating the tax code and provides an environment that better incentivizes business investments. There are many positives introduced in the Act, such as the simplification of rates for average, American taxpayers; eventual repeal of the estate tax; lowering of certain corporate taxes; expanded deductions of business investments; and others.

“We look forward to being fully engaged in the process to bring forward the concerns of franchise owners,” said Keith Miller, chairman of CFA. “Our representatives need to make sure the franchisees that invest and employ individuals in our local communities have a tax structure that encourages future investment.”

The CFA is concerned, however, about what appear to be steep increases in taxes and complexity for small, pass-through business entities and is actively working with Congress to address these concerns. The elimination of the state and local tax deduction and limited deductibility of interest payments on standard business loans are issues of concern involved in these efforts.

“We need to ensure the tax benefits of this reform benefit the small businesses that are the backbone of growth, jobs and opportunity in the country,” added Robert Branca, CFA vice chair who is currently working on the issue in Washington. “These small businesses are the least able to handle added complexity and cost, and are in most need of tax relief, and we believe lawmakers and the administration want to help them. Our intent is to help show them how best to do that.”

Coalition of Franchisee Associations Supports Treasury Decision to Withdraw Proposed Section 2704 Regulation Changes

WASHINGTON, D.C. (Oct. 6, 2017) – The Coalition of Franchisee Associations (CFA) is proud to announce that an effort led by CFA Vice Chair Robert Branca, on behalf of the entire franchising industry, has led to the withdrawal by the Treasury Department and Internal Revenue Service (IRS) of proposed changes to Section 2704. These changes could have had a substantial impact on franchisees, as limitations in liquidating their franchise assets would have created an over valuation in gift reporting.

Mr. Branca initially commented on the proposed regulation in this letter, which was widely reported in the business, franchising and estate planning industries. In addition, Mr. Branca testified at the proposed rule change hearing on Dec. 1, 2016, and was joined by CFA Chair Keith Miller, who also testified. Both pointed out the many limitations, specific to franchising, that reduce the value upon sale or transfer; therefore, the current rule that allows for discounting on gift reporting is needed.

“This withdrawal reflects the reality that the IRS sought to ignore and will help countless small family businesses remain with family,” Mr. Branca said.

 

Coalition of Franchisee Associations Commends NASAA for Commentary on Financial Performance Representations

WASHINGTON, D.C. (Aug. 9, 2017) – In May 2017, the North American Securities Administrators Association (NASAA) approved its “Commentary on Financial Performance Representations” regarding Financial Performance Recommendations (FPRs) made by franchisors under Item 19 of the Franchise Disclosure Document (FDD). The NASAA commentary provides state regulators with guidance on what is required by both federal and state law if a franchisor chooses to discuss sales and/or profits in its FDD.

Specifically, the NASAA commentary adds seven new sections to Item 19 of the FDD to help guide regulators and protect investors from false or misleading FPRs. These new requirements apply to statements in regard to gross sales, gross profits and net profits. The guidance encompasses both company-owned data and franchisee data and includes the use of disclaimers and projections, among other FPRs.

The Coalition of Franchisee Associations (CFA) applauds NASAA for its commentary and believes this guidance will assist new and renewing business owners in making a sound financial decision. CFA urges the franchisor community to support NASAA’s guidance, as it helps alleviate concerns over earnings claims and misleading sales techniques.

“Franchising is a substantial part of the U.S. economy and, as such, presents numerous investment opportunities. It is important that people can feel informed when investing as franchisees and that franchisors offering investment opportunities have clear rules that they can easily follow. This is why CFA actively followed the rule-making process,” said CFA Vice Chairman Rob Branca. “This is a big step as CFA continues to fight for more comprehensive disclosure and transparency in franchising.”

To view CFA’s July 26 webinar on the new NASAA commentary, click here.

Coalition of Franchisee Associations Files Joint Amicus Brief with U.S. Supreme Court on Behalf of Franchisees

WASHINGTON, D.C. (July 7, 2017) – Yesterday, the Coalition of Franchisee Associations (CFA), along with the American Hotel and Lodging Association, the Asian American Hotel Owners Association, the International Franchise Association and the Restaurant Law Center, filed an Amicus Curiae Brief in the U.S. Supreme Court, challenging two Fourth Circuit United States Court of Appeals decisions in DIRECTV, LLC AND DIRECTSAT USA, LLC v. MARLON HALL, ET AL. (DIRECTV) and its companion case SALINAS v. COMMERCIAL INTERIORS (Salinas).

CFA and the four other amici claim these recent decisions are unprecedented, overly broad and will serve to the great detriment of franchisees across the country. While CFA supports protections to prevent undue franchisor overreach, it asks the U.S. Supreme Court to create one federal definition by adopting a common law agency standard so that franchisees can retain their independent contractor status and run their businesses as they have done successfully for decades.

In the Salinas and DIRECTV cases, the court held that the “fundamental question” in determining joint employer status is whether the franchisor and franchisee are “completely disassociated” with each other in regard to the essential terms and conditions of a worker’s employment. This means that any association between the franchisor and franchisee in regard to the employee – including uniform requirements, wage and hour legal compliance and franchise branding matters – can result in the finding of a “joint employer” relationship. If left unchallenged, CFA believes these decisions will greatly damage the franchise model as it stands today.

“Franchising is a national asset that has provided the path to the American dream for countless families, including mine,” stated Rob Branca, CFA vice chairman and Dunkin’ Donuts franchisee. “It needs to be protected, and it is incumbent on people in this industry to take action. CFA is proud to join with our colleagues to pursue this protection all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court.”

To view the full brief, please click here.

Coalition of Franchisee Associations Applauds Progress of the Protect Florida Small Business Act

As an advocate for small businesses, the Coalition of Franchisee Associations (CFA) is pleased to report progress of pro-franchisee legislation introduced during the Florida legislative session. Sponsored by state Sen. Jack Latvala (R-16) and Rep. Jason Brodeur (R-28), the Protect Florida Small Business Act will level the playing field for owners of franchised small businesses and provide legal protections that will lead to more economic growth and jobs in communities across the state.

On Tuesday, April 4, the legislation was approved 7-2 by the Senate Regulated Industries Committee.

“We applaud the Senate Regulated Industries Committee and Sen. Latvala for championing this important legislation to protect small businesses across Florida. This is a monumental first step toward Florida joining 22 other states that have enacted similar protections for franchise owners in the restaurant, convenience store, hotel and retail industries,” said Keith Miller, chairman of the Coalition of Franchisee Associations. “We are grateful to CFA Director and Dunkin’ Donuts Independent Franchise Owners’ Ed Shanahan for testifying on behalf of CFA about the importance of this measure.”

If enacted, the Protect Florida Small Business Act will provide additional safeguards for franchisees, including protecting against unjust terminations, unfair restrictions on sales and transfers and unsubstantiated non-renewal of franchise agreements.

“Local businesses owned and operated as franchises are a staple of Florida’s economy, adding $35 billion per year and providing jobs for over 400,000 individuals. Even though they invest hard-earned personal resources to build successful local businesses, franchise owners too often are at the mercy of out-of-state corporations that have unchecked power to choose not to extend or renew their operating agreements,” Miller said. “We look forward to working with the bill’s sponsors and other legislators to pass this crucial bill into law and protect Florida’s small-business owners.”

For more information on the Protect Florida Small Business Act, visit www.protectFLbusiness.com.

Coalition of Franchisee Associations Supports the Protect Florida Small Business Act

As an advocate for small businesses, the Coalition of Franchisee Associations (CFA) is pleased to announce its support of pro-franchisee legislation unveiled today for the upcoming Florida legislative session. Sponsored by state Sen. Jack Latvala (R-16) and Rep. Jason Brodeur (R-28), the Protect Florida Small Business Act will level the playing field for owners of franchised small businesses and provide legal protections that will lead to more economic growth and jobs in communities across the state.

“CFA applauds Sen. Latvala and Rep. Brodeur for their introduction of the Protect Florida Small Business Act. Franchise owners in Florida invest, employ and pay taxes in their communities. Increasing the protections for these local businesspeople creates an environment that gives incentive for future investments,” CFA Chairman Keith Miller said.

“More than 400,000 jobs in Florida are directly tied to the hard work and efforts of franchised small-business owners,” explained Latvala. “Currently these small businessmen and women have no real protection if the national corporation drops them as a franchise holder. This is not a level playing field, this is wrong, and it must change.”

If enacted, the Protect Florida Small Business Act will provide additional safeguards for franchisees, including protecting against unjust terminations, unfair restrictions on sales and transfers and unsubstantiated non-renewal of franchise agreements.

“As a legislator, I want to continue to make sure Florida has the most business-friendly climate in America. As a chamber of commerce president, I’m particularly sensitive to the threats against small-business owners from out-of-state companies,” said Brodeur. “I want to be sure that there is a level playing field for all business owners in Florida, whether they are a small independent shop or a franchisee.”

For more information on the Protect Florida Small Business Act, visit www.protectFLbusiness.com.

Coalition of Franchisee Associations Applauds Injunction Against Overtime Rule

Washington, D.C. (Nov. 28, 2016) – The Coalition of Franchisee Associations (CFA), the largest franchisee-only association in the country, commends the injunction issued Nov. 22, 2016, by  U.S. District Judge Amos L. Mazzant blocking the U.S. Department of Labor’s (DOL) overtime rule, which was set to take effect Dec. 1. Affecting more than 4 million workers, the rule more than doubled the threshold under which employees must receive overtime pay to $47,476 per year.

“CFA applauds Judge Mazzant’s injunction, which applies some balance to the process and allows for an evaluation of the true impact to businesses,” said CFA Chairman Keith Miller.

While not opposed to raising the salary cap, the CFA supports a measured, rationally based increase that is backed by publicly reported, thoroughly vetted data.

“CFA would support a reasonable increase in the threshold, one that reflects the current economy,” said CFA Vice Chair Rob Branca.

Coalition of Franchisee Associations Welcomes New Member Jimmy John’s Franchisee Association

Washington, D.C. (Aug. 8, 2016) – The Coalition of Franchisee Associations (CFA), the largest franchisee-only association in the United States, has grown its membership by welcoming the Jimmy John’s Franchisee Association (JJFA).

“We welcome the addition of the Jimmy John’s Franchisee Association,” said Keith Miller, CFA chairman. “Franchisees are the ones investing, supporting and employing in our local communities. While we often are viewed as competitors, or from different lines of business, franchisees have many common issues that we can best solve by joining forces and working together.”

The JJFA is comprised of 600 total franchisees with 2,500 locations, with an average of 15 employees per location.

“As someone who runs an association, I understand the tremendous value an association can provide to their members,” said Brad Lowry, JJFA chair. “With CFA being a franchisee-only association, I knew that our membership and efforts would directly impact the lives of franchisees across this country. I know Jimmy John’s franchisees will benefit from the collective knowledge of CFA, their efforts, and efforts of their members over the years to come.”

The CFA’s continued growth is a testament to CFA’s efforts to unify franchisees, provide educational tools to the franchisee community and promote pro-franchisee legislation both in Washington, DC and across the country.

CFA Day Forum Gets Franchisees Face-to-Face with Heavy-Hitters

Along with the CFA Day Forum’s mainstay legislative components, members of the Coalition of Franchisee Associations (CFA) gained facetime with legal heavy-hitters in a first-of-its-kind format during this year’s event, held March 17-18, in Washington, D.C.

A joint-employer legal panel kicked off the event at the Capitol Visitors Center Thursday morning and featured Michael Lotito, co-chair of Littler’s Workplace Policy Institute; Michael Einbinder, founding member of Einbinder Dunn & Goniea; Robert Zarco, founding partner of Zarco Einhorn Salkowski & Brito, P.A.; and Ron Gardner, managing partner of Dady and Gardner, P.A.

During the panel, Lotito presented attendees with an overview and history of the joint-employer rule. Einbinder discussed the negative impacts of the new joint-employer rule on franchising, while Zarco followed with why the move is good for the industry. Gardner presented the pros and cons of the ruling, and the floor was then opened up for a question-and-answer session and discussion.

“I feel that the panel discussion served to highlight our concerns as franchisees as well as the different approaches that can be taken,” said Dunkin’ Donuts franchisee Robert Blum. “I think that, while the debate was at times lively, it really engaged the entire audience. At a time when we know that the franchisor is loaded for bear, we must be too.”

Following a luncheon highlighted by Congressional speakers, members joined smaller groups for a legislative review and Hill visits. The cross section of small-business owners, representing 14 franchisee associations, were able to address issues facing everyone. Among the topics taken to members of Congress were the Joint-Employer Standard, Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) lawsuit reform, the Fair Franchise Act and the Small Business Administration (SBA) Franchise Loan Disclosure Act.

“My husband and I were very excited to join and meet with other franchisees from other parts of the country who share our concerns and are committed to trying to make a difference by joining together to speak with our legislators to help them understand that we are families and small-business owners who are providing jobs and want to leave our businesses to our children and grandchildren,” said Colleen Bailey, a Dunkin’ Donuts franchisee.

The day closed with a reception at Stanton & Greene where franchise owners were able to meet and spend time talking with members of Congress.

On Friday the highlight of the 2016 CFA Day Forum brought together franchisees and legal counsel for a roundtable breakfast, providing an unparalleled service to CFA members. Broken up into 20-minute sessions, attendees were able to take away valuable insight into major issues small-business owners face and ask questions pertinent to their situation.

The unique setting allowed participants to hear from Lotito, Zarco, Einbinder and Jeffrey Haff of Dady & Gardner on a range of topics. Lotito covered “Labor Laws: Overtime and Persuader Rules, Minimum Wage and Others.” Zarco and Einbinder addressed litigation topics. While Zarco spoke on “Avoiding Litigation: How to Protect Your Business,” Einbinder provided insight with “Litigation Strategies: How to Gain the Upper Hand.” Haff discussed “Disputed Exit Strategies: Transfers, Renewals and Right of First Refusal.”

“The roundtable discussions were very helpful for me individually because it provided a forum for me to have various questions addressed that were more specific to my own franchisee situations. I felt that I was able to receive insight into some issues by discussing them with other franchisees from various other concepts as well as the attorneys at the tables,” Blum said.

Blum, attending his third CFA Day Forum, said the benefits to the event are many.

“It has been an eye-opener to see how many Congressmen and senators don’t fully understand the franchise concept. Too many of them think that we are employees of the franchisor. When they learn that we are self-employed small-business owners, they are truly shocked,” he said. “It is also alarming how many of the representatives assume that we are in total alliance with the franchisor. When we are able to educate them of our differences, as well as the fact that we are the entity that is employing the majority of their constituency, that is when we have the biggest impact.”

The CFA Applauds the Introduction of Pro-Franchisee Legislation

Washington, D.C. (July 24, 2015) — The Coalition of Franchisee Associations (CFA) is applauding Rep. Keith Ellison for introducing the Fair Franchise Act of 2015 and the Small Business Administration (SBA) Franchise Loan Transparency Act. These bills protect franchisees from often imbalanced franchise agreements, which, for the most part, are non-negotiable and provide greater transparency to prospective franchisees before they invest significant financial resources toward the purchase of a franchise.

“We thank Rep. Ellison for his leadership in introducing these bills. The Fair Franchise Act addresses many of our key principles as stated in the Universal Franchisee Bill of Rights,” said CFA Chairman Keith Miller. “We also appreciate the support of initial cosponsors, Rep. Conyers, who worked closely with Rep. Coble on similar legislation in the late 1990’s, and Rep. Huffman, who four years ago authored legislation in California to protect franchisees. The CFA looks forward to working on the issues addressed by the legislation with stakeholders in the industry toward a solution that protects franchisee profitability and equity.”

Coalition of Franchisee Associations Adds Three Member Associations

Washington, D.C. (Aug. 6, 2015) — The Coalition of Franchisee Associations (CFA) membership has grown its membership by welcoming the Eastern VA 7-11 Franchisee Owners Association, the South Florida Franchise Owners Association of 7-Eleven and the National TUPSSO Franchise Owners Association.

“We are pleased to have these associations as our newest members,” says Keith Miller, CFA chairman. “As our membership grows, we are in a better position to represent all franchisees. We will continue to work to represent their interests to strengthen franchising by ensuring that the franchisees who invest in our local communities have a voice in working toward a more balanced and profitable position.”

Committed solely to franchisees, represents nearly 39,000 franchise owners and more than 87,000 locations and 1.4 million employees. The organization’s growth is a testament to franchisees recognizing the CFA’s efforts in fighting for franchisee rights, pro small-business legislation and against over-regulation.

California Governor Signs Franchise Bill into Legislation

Washington, D.C. (Oct. 12, 2015) — Gov. Jerry Brown of California signed a new franchise protection law, CFA-sponsored AB 525, Sunday afternoon that gives franchise owners in California the strongest rights in the United States.

“We thank Governor Brown for signing AB 525 and taking this step to better protect the rights and investments of the California franchise owners,” said Keith Miller, chairman of the Coalition of Franchisee Associations (CFA). “This journey started almost five years ago, when then Assemblyman Jared Huffman introduced a comprehensive franchise bill. While not everything wished for was achieved, the legislation signed is a significant achievement. It will give franchisees more rights against termination. It will add transparency to the transfer process. It will put meaningful remedies for improper terminations or non renewals. And most importantly, it acknowledges that franchisees own the equipment and fixtures in their business, and that franchisors must purchase them to take possession upon termination or expiration of the franchise agreement.”

Earlier this year, the CFA and the International Franchise Association (IFA) announced they had worked together to find agreement on several amendments to the bill that would help to ensure that franchising remains an important part of the California economy.“The process of bringing the legislation into existence is a hallmark of a sea change in the franchising industry. With the CFA working together with the IFA to balance and strengthen the law’s provisions to protect the rights of both business owners and brand stewards, franchising can be seen as the powerful entrepreneurial vehicle and leading national jobs generator that it has become. Franchisees are finally being recognized and protected as the serious investors that they are,” said CFA Vice Chairman Rob Branca.

Coalition of Franchisee Associations Supports Introduction of Legislation to Block Proposed Overtime Regulations

WASHINGTON, D.C. (March 22, 2016) – The Coalition of Franchisee Associations (CFA), the largest franchisee-only association in the country, supports the introduction of legislation to block the U.S. Department of Labor’s (DOL) proposed overtime rule. Sponsored by Sens. Tim Scott (R-SC) and Lamar Alexander (R-TN) and Reps. Tim Walberg (R-MI-07) and John Kline (R-MN-02), the Protecting Workplace Advancement and Opportunity Act seeks to nullify the rule and calls for further analysis of the impact on the economy.

“We must always remind legislators and regulators that while we often have ‘Wall Street’ names on the front of our business, we are truly local ‘Main Street’ small businesses that struggle in today’s economy to make a living and support our families,” said CFA Chairman Keith Miller. “We are not against any increases, but those increases need to be based on the economic realities across the country. One size fits all is often a bad measure.”

CFA does not oppose a measured, rationally based increase in the threshold, which is supported by publicly reported, thoroughly vetted data.

“Our members do oppose such a dramatic increase, which does not take into consideration the impact on our businesses,” said Rob Branca, CFA vice chairman. “We also object to automatic increases in the threshold tied to an index without the legislative or regulatory oversight that monitors then-prevalent economic conditions. Indeed, increases in any index will necessarily reflect increases to all other costs borne by businesses in addition to labor costs.”

“This bill helps protect franchisees by requiring regulators to come face-to-face with the economic impact of the language they draft,” said Misty Chally, CFA executive director.