By Brooke Preston, Manta Contributor
February 1, 2019

It’s time to visit your books to make sure your business is adhering to newly implemented laws and regulations.

The new year is a time for resolutions and fresh starts. It also represents the beginning of a new fiscal and tax year, meaning it’s time to visit your books to make sure you and any employees or contractors are adhering to newly implemented laws and regulations. While tax law can vary by state and city (making an exhaustive list impractical), here are three key updates that apply to many small business owners nationwide. Quickly revisiting them (or asking your bookkeeper to do so) can help save you hassles and even potentially money and legal woes down the line.

Comply With Your State or Municipality’s New Minimum Wage: Although the federal minimum wage remains $7.25 per hour, approximately 20 states have increased rates, effective January 1, 2019. State and minimum wages trump federal rules in this case, so be sure you’re in compliance with all local and state regulations and backdate the pay increase if you errantly implemented the change a bit late. If you have a brick and mortar location, you’re also required to post the new posters with updated minimum wage information, available free from the Department of Labor or OSHA, or for sale at office supply stores.

Take Note of Any New Applicable Statewide Employment Laws:  Be sure to research any new employment laws that may have just gone into effect for businesses in your state for 2019. For instance, the Oregon Equal Pay Law prohibits employers from paying employees different amounts for the same or comparable work. A new law in California compels any business owner with 5 or more employees to conduct sexual harassment training (a minimum of two hours for supervisors, one hour for non-supervisors) this year, and bi-annually thereafter.

Weigh Health Insurance Choices: While the battle over the Affordable Care Act drags on, its employer mandate for companies with 50 or more full-time (and equivalent) employees remains in place. Smaller companies who aren’t subject to this mandate should still note smaller changes, such as Health Savings Account (HSA) limit increases. The current healthcare law flux and has contributed to the rise of group market Association Health Plans, available for purchase for members (including sole proprietors!) of civic associations such as trade associations and chambers of commerce, which may be a good alternative to traditional health plans for small businesses and self-employed workers for whom traditional employer-provided plans aren’t an option.