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It’s that time of year again.
May is World Trade Month, a time to reaffirm the important role that international trade plays in U.S. economic growth.
In today’s global economy, it is more important than ever for American businesses to tap into the abundance of opportunities overseas. 95 percent of the world’s consumers are located outside our borders; helping companies reach them is key to our nation’s economic success and future.
Today more than 80 percent of U.S. exports of consumer and industrial products to Colombia become duty-free as part of the U.S.-Colombia Trade Promotion Agreement. This includes agricultural and construction equipment, building products, aircraft and parts, fertilizers, information technology equipment, medical scientific equipment and wood. Also, more than half of U.S. exports of agricultural commodities to Colombia become duty-free, including wheat, barley, soybeans, high-quality beef, bacon and almost all fruit and vegetable products.
The agreement also provides significant new access to Colombia’s $180 billion services market, supporting increased opportunities for U.S. service providers. For example, Colombia agreed to eliminate measures that prevented firms from hiring U.S. professionals, and to phase-out market restrictions in cable television.
Prior to the enactment of this agreement, the average tariff that U.S. manufactured goods faced entering Colombia was 10.8 percent. With entry into force today, Colombia’s average tariff rate for manufactured goods from the United States has been reduced to 4 percent.
When going on a trip, it doesn’t do much good to review a map if you have no idea where you want to go. You seldom plan a trip without knowing how much time you have to get to your destination and how much money you want to spend to get there. If you are like me, it is also helpful to have a map that shows key locations along the way; the number of miles between certain points; and the type of road you will be traveling on.
The same is true in business. Your record keeping system is the map that tells you how far you are, what key points of interest are currently to be found in your business and helps give you some idea of how far and how long it will take to get where you want to go.
If you’re going to develop an effective map (recordkeeping) system for your business, where do you begin? The best idea is to review those stops along the way that will give you the information you need to make decisions. This is usually done by developing a Chart of Accounts. A Chart of Accounts is no more than a complete listing of all of the accounts; assets, liabilities, equity, revenue and expenses that you have in your business.
E-Verify is a fast, free, and easy to use web-based service run by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the Social Security Administration that allows employers to verify the eligibility of their newly hired employees to legally work in the United States.
All employers are already required to complete and retain a Form I-9, the “Employment Eligibility Verification” form, for each person they hire in the United States. That includes citizens and non-citizens.
Who Uses E-Verify?
More than 353,000 employers, large and small, across the United States use E-Verify to check the employment eligibility of their employees, with about 2,500 new businesses signing up each week.
While participation in E-Verify is voluntary for most businesses, some companies may be required by state law or federal regulation to use E-Verify. For example, most employers in Arizona and Mississippi are required to use E-Verify. E-Verify is also mandatory for employers with federal contracts or subcontracts that contain the Federal Acquisition Regulation E-Verify clause.
Form W-2 Reporting of Employer-Sponsored Health Coverage
The Affordable Care Act requires employers to report the cost of coverage under an employer-sponsored group health plan. Reporting the cost of health care coverage on the Form W-2 does not mean that the coverage is taxable. The value of the employer’s excludable contribution to health coverage continues to be excludable from an employee's income, and it is not taxable. This reporting is for informational purposes only and will provide employees useful and comparable consumer information on the cost of their health care coverage.
Employers that provide "applicable employer-sponsored coverage" under a group health plan are subject to the reporting requirement. This includes businesses, tax-exempt organizations, and federal, state and local government entities (except with respect to plans maintained primarily for members of the military and their families). However, federally recognized Indian tribal governments are not subject to this requirement.
For certain employers, types of coverage, and situations, there is transition relief from the requirement to report the value of coverage on the 2012 Forms W-2 (the forms for calendar year 2012 that employers generally are required to provide employees in January 2013). This relief will apply to future calendar years until the IRS publishes additional guidance. However, any guidance that expands the reporting requirements will apply only to calendar years that start at least six months after the guidance is issued. See the “Optional Reporting” column in the below chart for the employers, types of coverage, and situations eligible for the transition relief.