Category Archives: Legal Issues

Prepare now for paid family leave law in 2019.

by Monica Blackwood, Columnist, Kitsap Peninsula Business Journal

The last half of 2017 saw companies scrambling to understand and prepare for Washington’s paid sick leave law, and employers continued to educate themselves on the new regulations into the summer of 2018. While that flurry of activity was happening, there was another bill which Gov. Jay Inslee signed: Washington State Paid Family and Medical Leave Law.

We are now the fifth state in the nation to pass such a law, after California, New Jersey, Rhode Island and New York. And, the law’s “go live” date is fast approaching – employers need to comply by January 1, 2019.

A quick summary about this law: For the year 2019, funding will be built up into the plan. Starting January 1, 2020 eligible employees are allowed 12 weeks of family or medical leave. This includes mothers and fathers welcoming a child into their home either by birth or adoption; or to take care of themselves or a family member (defined as a child, spouse, domestic partner, parent, parent-in-law, sibling, grandparent or grandchild) who has a serious health condition, or for a family member injured due to military service. In some situations, that paid leave can be extended to up to 18 weeks.

Read the rest of the story here


ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Monica Blackwood is president and CEO of Westsound Workforce, with offices in Gig Harbor and Poulsbo. Contact her at monica@westsoundworkforce.com.

Ready to start an online store?

With all the news about people making a ton of money online, many aspiring entrepreneurs are excited at the prospect of starting an ecommerce store. However, many people don’t think through all the things that they need to consider before they even start the process of building an ecommerce site.

Here are eight things to consider before starting an online store.

1. What Products Are You Going to Sell?

One of the most important decisions is determining which products you will sell on your online store. Your best bet is to start small – with a few select products that are based around a specific niche, i.e. breastfeeding products, scuba diving gear, hiking products, travel gadgets, hemp products, etc. Start with a handful of products in that niche – you can always add more products to your store as you grow. Check out your competition and see who you’re up against.

Be sure to pick a niche that you’re personally interested in. If you’re not interested in what you’re selling, you will quickly lose your passion.

Also, look for unique products that can’t be bought at Target, Walmart or other big brand stores — you will never be able to compete with them on price or promotion.

For instance, when I had an ecommerce site, I searched for mom- or parent-invented products that weren’t available through mass market stores. Plus, these types of product manufacturers are typically more willing to work with you on terms and drop shipping (which we will talk about in a little bit.) You can also look for innovative products to sell on crowdfunding sources like Indiegogo or Kickstarter.

When you determine which niche products you’re going to sell, see if there are industry associations, trade websites or magazines. If so, join, follow and subscribe. Also, if there are product tradeshows around your product niche, attend these trade shows to discover new products, speak with the manufacturer reps directly and learn more about the industry in general. Often at the tradeshows you will be able to negotiate better pricing or drop shipping arrangements – especially if the manufacturer is launching a new product and they’re looking for new distributors.  Continue reading

Washington’s Paid Family and Medical Leave Program.

PFML_Employer_OverviewWashington is soon to be the fifth state to offer paid family and medical leave benefits. All workers will no longer have to choose between caring for their loved ones and making ends meet. They can dedicate their time away from work to be the best caretaker they can be. In return employers have access to an inexpensive benefit, save on payroll costs while the worker is on leave, and reduced employee turnover costs.

Workers can begin taking leave in 2020, but next year employers will have some actions to take.

First, employers need to withhold premiums from paychecks starting with the first check in 2019. These premiums are split between employers and workers. Workers foot most of the bill, but employers with 50 or more employees have a portion to pay also. (Employers with fewer than 50 employees don’t have to pay premiums but are still responsible for collecting and remitting the workers share.) Premiums are paid to the Employment Security Department by employers quarterly, starting in 2019. Learn more about premiums on the Premiums page.  Continue reading

Washington business registration renewal letter scam.

Misleading Letter vs. Official Letter

Businesses in Washington should be aware of a possibly fraudulent letter claiming to be an official bill for annual business registration fees.

One letter received by an Edmonds-based business directed the business to send $121.86 to a post office box in Olympia. The letter stated, “your state annual report will not be filed until payment is received.”

The misleading letter did not include the Office of Secretary of State logo, as an official letter from the Office of Secretary of State would – see the example pictured above.  Continue reading

What are the qualified business deductions under the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act?

tax deductionsThe Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) created a new 20% deduction for pass-through entities. Though the IRS has not fully interpreted the new rules—which won’t go into effect until the 2019 tax season—many of the implications are clear. This article’s companion piece examined what qualifies as a Pass-Through Entity (PTE).

This blog hopefully sheds some light on how PTEs will be impacted by the new law.

Why a Deduction for Pass-Through Entities?

Since their inception, pass-through entities have been a popular choice for entrepreneurs, especially after the 1986 Tax Reform Act (TRA). Better known as President Reagan’s second tax cut, the TRA was passed by Congress to simplify the tax code and adjust the federal tax brackets.  Continue reading

Is there an embezzler in your company?

One of the joys of running a small business is how close you and your employees can become. For many entrepreneurs, their staff is more like family. That’s why it can be so painful to think that one of your employees is an embezzler. However, employee fraud is more common than you may think.

In fact, the majority (55 percent) of embezzlement takes place at companies with fewer than 100 employees, according to a study by insurance company Hiscox.

But that’s not all. In addition to being disproportionately affected by embezzlement, small companies also face disproportionately large costs when they are robbed. Consider this: One incident of embezzlement costs small businesses a median of $289,000. Could your business take a hit that big?

Read more here

Ask SCORE: How are pass-through entities affected by the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act?

2018 tax lawsThe passage of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) brought renewed focus upon pass-through entities (PTEs). In spite of their widespread popularity, PTEs are commonly misunderstood. While thought of primarily as small businesses with few employees that generate a fraction of overall business profits, the truth about PTEs tells a very different story.

As it turns out, pass-through entities are the most popular structure in the US, employing millions of workers and churning out billions of dollars in annual revenues.

This article will demystify many of the misconceptions about PTEs and explain how the TCJA will affect these companies—and the US economy—in the future.  Continue reading