5 New Regulations That Could Impact Your Small Business

Source: Thinkstock

Source: Thinkstock

Regulatory compliance is paramount for businesses of all sizes. Since tax rules and other standards change frequently, staying on top of regulations is not a small undertaking. Fortunately, regulatory experts and tax advisors are prepared to guide you through the complex issues facing your business.

Oversight comes in many forms, sometimes addressing industry-specific concerns. Other regulation, however, applies across the board. The following five regulations could impact your small business in 2015.

1. Affordable Care Act

The Affordable Care Act has far reaching implications for businesses. Obamacare has been wrought with growing pains since its inception. As a result, making sense of the new law’s impact on your small business is not as straightforward as it could be.

In addition to new disclosure rules for informing employees, the Affordable Care Act calls for employers to meet new IRS regulations. For small business owners with questions about the new laws, using updated accounting software such as Sage helps navigate changing tax filing requirements. Though some of the changes are being phased in over time and will not apply to every business this year, the way employers supply health insurance will ultimately receive a complete makeover. To protect your business from costly IRS fines and penalties, stay ahead of regulatory shifts.

2. Immigration Reform

During the early part of 2015, President Obama used executive actions to change United States immigration policy. Though the anticipated impacts of the moves continue to be contested among experts, it is agreed the reforms will change the playing field for businesses.

The hiring and staffing implications of recent immigration reforms are still somewhat ambiguous, as industries and regulatory bodies react to the new policies. The changes could impact upwards of 5 million immigrants living in the United States. Detractors point to the potential for lost jobs among United States citizens, but others advocate relaxed work visa standards for those workers willing to contribute to the U.S. economy.

3. Overtime and Minimum Wage

Perhaps more than any other government regulation, pay mandates have significant impacts on a business’s bottom line. Changing wage thresholds impact employers from several states and cities in 2015. New York and San Francisco, for example, have raised minimum wage requirements to $8.75 and $11.05, respectively. And the statewide minimum wage in Arizona has also been elevated to $8.05.

Under authority of the Fair Labor Standards Act, the President is expected to continue advancing his call for increased overtime payments to certain employees. The proposed regulatory change shifts how employers account for their staff, limiting who can be excluded from overtime payments by being designated as a salaried manager.

4. Ban the Box Laws

In the past, employer screenings often included questions about applicants’ criminal histories. In fact, job applications commonly incorporated check boxes, requesting confirmation of a potential employee’s past charges and convictions. “Ban the Box” legislation promotes access to employment for applicants with prior convictions, requiring employers to strike application boxes asking about crime.

In principle, banning the box provides second chances for workers with criminal records, illuminating each applicant’s qualifications and accomplishments, rather than his or her legal indiscretions. The laws do not entirely prohibit prospective employers from asking about legal histories, but they do restrict how and when the information is obtained. To ensure compliance, check with municipal and state authorities for information about requirements in your area.

5. Sales Tax for Online Sales

Online sellers have not traditionally been required to collect sales tax for items shipped outside their home states. Some legislators see these tax-free sales as a threat to local revenues, so they are working to end the practice. There is already a mechanism in place by which buyers are obliged to report their online dealings and pay taxes on purchases. It is largely an honor system, however, so compliance and enforcement are lax. If your small business includes e-commerce, stay tuned for upcoming changes to business sales tax requirements.

In addition to the rules governing your particular field, regulatory compliance includes meeting universal standards maintained by the Federal Government, state agencies and municipalities. There are several noted changes in 2015 that may impact your small business.

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