Law offices across Southwest Washington have been busy answering questions from business owners about new laws will be go into effect in 2022, and how that will impact their businesses. As the pandemic continues to shape how we do business, it is important to stay on top of changes and trends in the law and what to be on the lookout for heading into the new year.
Current Legal Trends
Erin Lambley, business attorney for Landerholm, P.S. explains that they have seen a large increase in the number of business transactions recently, including people buying and selling businesses.
She said, “The market is hot, and the economy has been good, so it has been prime time to make some big moves.”
Caroline Reed, another business attorney for Landerholm, P.S. agreed. “The past two years have also allowed many people the time to invest in starting their own business endeavors,” she said. “From artists and authors to farmers and contractors, there hasn’t been a shortage of people interested in forming new companies. Additionally, the cultural shift toward supporting small and local businesses has helped many of these businesses thrive.”
Trevor Cartales, partner at Navigate Law Group shared that he has talked to a lot of business owners about COVID-19 precautions within the employment context – especially in the area of vaccine mandates.
“Many businesses are trying to decide whether to require customers and employees to be vaccinated, and whether and how to grant exceptions for those seeking medical or religious accommodations,” he said. “With so much information – and misinformation – surrounding what is medically effective, what is legal, and what is a liability risk, local companies have sought legal counsel to navigate these pandemic waters. Sadly, there is no uniform answer that makes sense for every business; each requires careful analysis.”
The WA Cares Fund, which has been delayed by the government, is something to keep in mind. As previously outlined by the state, workers could be required to pay a small percentage of their paycheck as premiums for the long-term care fund, and Washington businesses will need to begin accounting for employee contributions. While this is currently on hold, it is important for employers to prepare for it, as rules will likely be finalized in the coming year.
Cartales also recommends that small businesses prepare or the new Corporate Transparency Act.
He said, “The Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) is currently in the rulemaking process to determine how businesses will report personal information about their ‘beneficial owners.’ Rulemaking should finalize in early 2022, after which time certain businesses have a limited time to file their reports. This is a federal requirement designed for nationwide regulatory visibility into small private enterprises, but it contains several exceptions based on the number of employees, annual revenues, and other criteria. The FinCEN reporting forms are not yet available, but businesses are already starting to consider whether they meet the regulatory reporting exceptions.”
Reed explains that for companies that use third party payment providers like PayPal, Venmo, or Cash App, there will be new federal tax reporting laws that will go into effect soon. Starting in 2022, individuals or businesses that receive $600 or more through the payment provider will need to report payments to the IRS.
“Businesses should keep good records of these transactions in order to accurately report this income on IRS Form 1099-K, which will be provided to users by the third-party payment providers,” she said.
In addition, Reed shares that the new Washington Nonprofit Corporation Act will begin on January 1 and will impact a number of non-profit clients.
“One of the biggest changes is the expansion of the provisions regarding nonprofit membership,” she explained. “If your non-profit has members, this may be a good time to have an attorney review your organization’s governing documents to ensure that they are in compliance with the new act.”
Even with the many changes that are sure to come in 2022, business in Clark County is continuing to thrive.
“While the pandemic has been a terrible challenge for many, it has also been an opportunity to adapt quickly, be creative, and continue to stay connected despite the inability to be in person,” shared Lambley. “The business market in Clark County is very robust at the moment.”