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New Laws Small Business Owners Should Know in 2018

By Christopher Coble, Esq. | Last updated on

Last year was a busy time for small business owners. Between federal action on tax and immigration to state action on minimum wage and family leave, it might've seemed like you spent more time trying to keep pace with legal updates than running your small biz.

Well, here's the bad news first: 2018 isn't likely to get any simpler. But the good news is we're here for you, highlighting the new laws and legal trends you'll need to keep an eye on this year.

Taxation and Deductions

Last year's tax bill might have been the one legislative feather in President Donald Trump's cap, but the IRS is still trying to sort out some of the enforcement details. Overall, the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act slashed the corporate tax rate from 35 percent to 21 percent, and allows corporations to deduct state and local taxes.

Beyond that, the Section 179 deduction -- the one that allows you to deduct the full purchase price of financed or leased equipment and off-the-shelf software -- doubles this year to $1 million.

Wage and Hour

A grand total of 18 states will have higher minimum wage requirements this year. Ten of those states -- Arizona, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Maine, Michigan, New York, Rhode Island, Vermont and Washington State -- passed laws raising the wage floor. And the eight others -- Alaska, Florida, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, New Jersey, Ohio and South Dakota -- will see increases because their minimum wage is tied to the inflation rate.

There were also a slew of wage theft lawsuits last year, and courts and prosecutors have not been kind to businesses accused of exploiting their workers.

Immigration and Employment

President Trump has also been bullish on immigration reform, seeking to limit access to new immigrants and whittle away protection for those who entered the country illegally. And that could put a squeeze on employers, who will have fewer candidates from which to choose and may even be forced to fire formerly protected employees.

Trump may have also made it harder for immigrants to start their own businesses. The administration delayed implementation of former President Barack Obama's International Entrepreneurs Rule, which allowed foreigners building "fast-growing businesses" to apply for "parole status" to work in the U.S. That left a lot of foreign-born entrepreneurs wondering whether they'll be able to stay in the country and continue running the small businesses they started here.

If you need help navigating 2018's legal waters, contact a local commercial attorney today.

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