The Summer of Law

While many were spending time these summer months gearing up for ICAST or recovering from it, and retailers were trying to grow their businesses, our friends in Washington, D.C. were busy passing new laws, examining old ones and ruling on past rulings in the courts. Many of these changes and pending changes did not register with many small business owners, but should have. Each one of the following five new laws will affect your business, either directly or indirectly through suppliers and higher costs to them.

Online Sales Tax
This is a topic we have covered quite often in different articles on this site. While the Marketplace Fairness Act is something many of you are aware of, and the additional $1 million in sales tax that it should generate, do you also know many states are looking to reassess their sales tax laws? The states see sales tax as a viable way to generate revenue quickly. You should look into what your state may be proposing for your sales tax. Higher taxes generally result in lower sales as many consumers tighten their financial belts when such taxes are raised.

Employment Rulings
Employment, and the lack thereof for some is an area that the current administration has discussed quite often. Two new regulations may be headed to your store very quickly and you should be aware of them now. The first is between the IRS and the U.S. Department of Labor dealing with how workers or employees are currently classified. Both want to see small business owners change many of their current employee classifications; this would result in higher money owed by you the business owner.

The second is how you the employer hire new employees. It may soon be illegal to discriminate against and not hire someone who has been arrested and convicted of a crime. This would make you eligible to fines or worse if you use any information you gain on a potential employee’s past criminal history while running a background check grounds for not hiring them.

Health Care
Depending on the size of your staff, this may or may not affect your store, but it will eventually have an impact on you through your suppliers being hit with additional fees to provide healthcare to their employees. If you do employee fifty or more employees full time, or they are full-time equivalent employees, then you may have to either provide them healthcare or be assessed potential payments for not offering them healthcare. This is one topic that has been in the news almost daily and will surely continue to be discussed.

Immigration is always a hot topic, especially in the southwest, but is something many employers need to be aware of no matter where they are located. In June, the Senate passed the Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act of 2013, making it possible for some undocumented illegal immigrants to gain legal status and eventually citizenship. This is also referred to as the Immigration Bill by some. Whether you see this as a good Act or a less favorable one, something need to be aware of is E-Verify and your need as an employer to comply with it.

Defense of Marriage Act
The Supreme Court ruled this summer on two highly publicized cases dealing with same-sex marriage and the rights alloted to the couple. While this has no immediate direct impact on employers, it is believed to have an effect in the near future. Look for changes to come through regarding healthcare, payroll taxes and employment regulations due to these rulings.

While many anglers were enjoying the fishing this summer had to offer and many of you were working long hours in your store, these five issues came to the forefront and will impact your business either directly or indirectly in the near future. Do your business a favor and research them on your own and prepare yourself for the changes that are coming. Share your thoughts with us on the legal changes made in Washington this summer. You can comment on both our Facebook page and in our LinkedIn group.