Many small businesses will see their labor costs increase in 2019.
Seventeen states are raising their minimum wages Jan. 1, and a number of others will follow suit later in the year. Some of the increases were scheduled by legislation passed in the last few years. Others are in response to the rising inflation rate. The minimum is also going up in some major cities, among them Oakland and other California cities.
Many owners with minimum-wage workers also give raises to their other employees when there is a government-mandated increase. Bosses need to avert any resentment that could arise when some staffers get a bump-up and others don’t.
Pay is also expected to be rising, possibly later in the year, for some salaried workers. The Labor Department is expected to issue early in 2019 its regulations on which employees must be paid overtime, and which are exempt. The Trump administration is rewriting rules written during the Obama administration that would have doubled the pay threshold at which workers would be exempt from overtime, to $47,476 from $23,660. An estimated 4.2 million people would have been able to begin earning OT under the rules. The new rules are expected to raise the threshold — the question still is, by how much?
The overtime rules are most likely to affect workers with jobs like shift supervisor or assistant manager at restaurants and retailers or manufacturing companies. Many owners have already thought about how to protect their margins from a surge in labor costs. Some have said they plan to give affected staffers raises that would put them above the Labor Department threshold. Others have said they will pay these staffers hourly but limit how many hours a day or week they work.
MILEAGE RATES GOING UP
The IRS has raised its standard mileage rate for deducting the cost of using a car for business during 2019; it will be 58 cents per mile, up 3.5 cents from 2018. The standard mileage rate is one of two methods for owners to account for how much they spend when they use a car for business; the second is based on actual expenses. Under that method an owner must calculate the percentage of miles the car is driven for business, and apply that percentage to expenses like lease payments, fuel, maintenance, repairs, insurance and depreciation.
Under the new tax law, employees cannot claim a deduction for the use of their own cars on behalf of their companies.
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