Number of new laws in play in the new year
The most wide-reaching new laws coming into effect in 2018 will give a modest boost to low-wage workers.
The Ohio state minimum wage will increase from $8.15 an hour to $8.30 an hour, starting Jan. 1. An increase will also be applied to tipped workers, whose minimum wages will go from $4.08 an hour to $4.15 an hour.
A full-time worker earning state minimum wage will get a boost of $6 a week, amounting to $312 a year. The new federal income tax laws will affect earners differently depending on their situations, but a single person earning full-time minimum wage with no dependents or deductions could pay $330 less in federal tax over the coming year, so the combination of slightly higher wages and slightly lower taxes could add about $50 to the discretionary income of a single person working full time for state minimum wage.
State minimum wage applies to businesses with gross receipts of $305,000 a year or more and is higher than the federal minimum wage of $7.25 an hour. The new state minimum wage law increased the threshold that applies to small businesses — it previously was $299,000 a year. Data for the number of state minimum wage workers in Washington County are not available, but the Bureau of Labor Statistics calculates that approximately 2.3 percent of the Ohio workforce draws minimum wage, which indicates the new wage law could affect as many as 600 workers in the county.
One employer who pays minimum wage is American Flags and Poles on Front Street. Co-owner Jim Caporale said he has about five workers in the shop, which sells military, state and historical flags, U.S. flags, specialty flags and flagpoles. He said the new wage won’t have a dramatic impact on the store.
“That’s pretty insignificant, they raise it almost every year,” he said. “It used to be they’d ignore it and raise it every five years, but if they do it incrementally like this there’s not much of an effect.”
Caporale said he’s been dealing with minimum wage for decades as a businessman.
“I’ve been in business 22 years. My whole life I’ve been in business that pays minimum wage,” he said. “I’d love to be in a business that could pay more.”
On another matter affecting taxes, the state has declared a delinquent income tax amnesty for the first six weeks of the year. It will allow people who owe the state taxes to pay the balance with only half the interest due and none of the penalties usually applied. The amnesty, according to the Ohio State Bar Association, applies to both personal and business taxes that were unreported or underreported as May 1, 2017.
The amnesty applies to people who owe personal or school district taxes to the state, and to businesses that owe state and local sales and use taxes, financial institutions taxes and excise taxes for alcohol, tobacco and cigarettes. It applies only to taxpayers who voluntarily disclose their tax obligations, not to those who already are under assessment or have been audited.
Although most people expect new laws in the new year, Ohio State Bar Association communications officer Maggie Ostrowski said new statutes normally go into effect on a rolling basis during the general assembly session, with laws ordinarily going into effect 90 days after being signed by the governor. A search of the LegisScan database showed five bills going into effect as 2018 opens.
Among miscellaneous new statutes going into effect in the new year enacted by the 132nd General Assembly of the State of Ohio:
¯ February is designated Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month to increase public awareness of the problem.
¯ The period from March 13 to April 15 is designated Ohio Deaf History Month, amending the Ohio Revised Code that also designates May as Better Speech and Hearing Month and May 14 as Childhood Apraxia of Speech Awareness Day.
¯ A loophole in the Revised Code that allowed dismissal of a property tax complaint if the owner of the property was incorrectly identified has been plugged, effective Feb. 5.
¯ The week starting the first Monday in May is designated in-demand jobs week, and the governor’s office of workforce transformation and the state departments of job and family services, education and higher education will organize activities during the week to include job fairs and company tours “to connect middle and high school students with employers.”
¯ The Revised Code is cleaned up to eliminate some defunct boards and commissions, including the Government Contracting Advisory Council and the Local Government Innovation Council, and to eliminate electronic notaries and eliminate commission fees for compensated officers appointed by the governor.
NEW OHIO LAWS COMING IN 2018
¯ State minimum wage rises to $8.30/hr
¯ State delinquent tax amnesty
¯ HB 94: February designated Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month
¯ SB 27: March 15-April 13 designated Ohio Deaf History Month
¯ HB 118: Effective Feb. 5, property tax complaints can’t be dismissed because the property owner was incorrectly identified.
¯ SB 3: Designating the first week of Mayas in-demand jobs week.
¯ HB 31: Revisions to the Revised Code abolishing defunct boards and commissions, effective Feb. 5
Sources: State government, LegiScan.com