The New Year is a time when people try to put their resolutions into action. January 1 is also the day when a lot of laws and regulation changes take effect. Entrepreneurs who have been busy trying to close out 2014 now must take a look at what will be happening in the next 12 months. Just like a horoscope, there will be some good and some bad news as 2015 picks up speed.
The Affordable Care Act has Some Pluses
The Affordable Care Act has sought a level playing field for small business. Historically, entrepreneurs have not been able to provide the kind of healthcare that large corporations can. They were often forced to charge very high premiums. The Act includes the Small Business Health Insurance Marketplace (SHOP). It will be possible in 2015 for employers that have fewer than 50 full-time equivalent workers to take advantage of lower costs on group plans and claim tax credits, as well. The Affordable Care Act does require businesses with 100 or more employees to provide workers health insurance in 2015 or suffer consequences. Fortunately, those companies with 50 to 99 employees may wait until 2016 rolls around.
Internet Taxes on the Horizon
This is an issue with very serious consequences for many entrepreneurs with e-commerce business. Politicians have viewed the Internet with a hungry eye practically since the day it went public. Online access taxes and online state sales taxes are two things that may come up in 2015 for possible legislation. A one-year moratorium has been extended, but this is an issue that is not going to go away.
Internet taxes are a way of dividing business. Brick and mortar retailers have wanted online taxes to make things fairer. E-commerce business on the other hand, liken the Internet to the American interstate highway system; no tolls mean stronger business. State and local governments have complained that hundreds of millions of dollars in tax revenue are being lost by the moratorium. The chances of this being a very contentious issue in the business world are pretty good.
Contributory retirement plans got a boost for the coming year. The contribution limit for 401(k)s was increased to a grand total of $18,000 a year. The US Treasury also set up something for those do not have an employer-sponsored retirement plan. It is called a MyRA. This is a portable retirement plan that will not go down in value. A person can contribute to it every payday if he or she wishes.
Odds and Ends
They happened at the 11th hour, but small business did get an extension on some well-appreciated tax breaks. The $500,000 Section 179 limit was continued as were researching new market credits. The 50% bonus depreciation was also extended.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has new record-keeping and reporting requirements for work-related injuries.
Various states enacted laws that the local entrepreneurs can use to their advantage.
- The gasoline tax is going to be increased in five states. While at the same time, the gasoline tax is going to decrease in five others;
- California is enforcing a strict cap-and-trade system that will require gasoline and diesel producers to supply low carbon fuels or buy pollution permits. This is expected to cause increases in gasoline prices;
- New York State is providing tax credits for hiring veterans persons with developmental disabilities;
- Both Delaware and California have placed a prohibition on the sale of Social Security numbers;
- 20 states increase their minimum wages, and 29 states, along with the District of Columbia, will have minimum wages above the federal standard;
- Delaware is mandating requirements for the destruction of personally identifiable data at that point when the records are no longer being retained.
The old saying that the only thing certain is death and taxes is only two thirds of reality. Change is something that is always going to occur, particularly when it comes to legislation. Entrepreneurs waking up on January 1, 2015 saw a dawn full of regulation requirements and rule alterations. It is a smart idea in the coming weeks to get a full grasp of what all these changes mean. That may include talking to an attorney or accountant, but those are worthwhile conversations. Nasty surprises are something that can be avoided.
Sameer Bhatia is founder & CEO of ProProfs, a leading provider of online learning tools for building, testing, and applying knowledge. ProProfs Knowledge Base Software is used to create highly-searchable online FAQ’s to improve customer service and reduce tickets. He has a Master's degree in Computer Science from the University of Southern California (USC) and is an ed-tech industry veteran. You can find him on Google+ and Twitter.