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content Outlook: What’s Ahead for Taxes & Finances
2020 Legislative Action Summary and Scorecard
2020 Patrick E. Swarthout Business Advocate Awards
California’s Brand New Labor Laws: Friends or Foes?
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Submit your best marketing and advertising to this years American Advertising Awards! Have a chance to win Bronze, Silver, Gold and the coveted Best of Show! Deadline is March 8th, 2021. Enter today!
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The Greater Coachella Valley Chamber of Commerce would like to thank our generous sponsors
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Outlook: What’s Ahead for Taxes & Finances
n addition to being tax and finance experts as one of the region’s oldest and most respected CPA firms, Osborne Rincon monitors what is on the horizon for tax considerations to be mindful of as businesses and individuals prepare for the upcoming tax years. The partners of Osborne Rincon offer the following insights and a look ahead for what we might see in 2021 and beyond:
What May Have a Chance of Being Passed? By: Pedro Rincon The stimulative measures in President-elect Biden’s plan that ease tax burdens on low- and middle-income families will likely be the most palatable for a Congressional majority to swallow. Among Biden’s proposals: a temporary increase in the child tax credit, from $2,000 per child up to age 16 to $3,600 per child up to age 6 and $3,000 for children up to age 17; raising the child and dependent-care tax credit from a maximum of $2,100 to $8,000; a new $5,000 credit for informal caregivers; and a tax credit for lower-income 401(k) contributors. As for timing, any changes will likely be effective in 2022 or 2023, analysts say. While new tax rules can be made effective retroactively as long as they are adjustments to existing rules and not 4 | GCVCC.ORG
entirely new, the chances are slim that they’ll impact taxpayers this year. COVID will most likely take up most of any time and effort put forward. What Might Happen with Corporate Taxes? By: Lee Osborne With every change in the White House there are always new tax laws. There are some indications about what may be coming for businesses under the Biden administration’s direction for corporate taxes. For 2021 there could be substantial changes. President-elect Joe Biden has some big changes in store, however; if the Republicans maintain control in the Senate, many of the tax law changes as proposed, may not occur. There will be some, but not all those originally proposed by Biden. From a corporate standpoint, we believe the corporate tax rate will go up from the current rate of 21% to the proposed rate of 28%. There will also be new tax credits for renewable energy and workplace retirement plans. For small business, there is the IRS section 199A deduction – and this may remain in place – but be reduced for those with personal income over $400,000.
Some of the more drastic changes may not occur if the Republicans maintain control in the Senate, but there are some changes that both parties should be able to agree on. Here in 2021, most of the changes may be tied to COVID, and the new tax laws may not take effect until 2022. Regardless of when, be assured that change is coming. What Could Be Coming for Tax Brackets and Capital Gains? By: Jason Schneider With any change in administration, there are changes to the tax codes, and with the results of the 2020 election, this will be no different. While we are not certain of the specific changes that will be implemented, we do know certain aspects that were presented in President-elect Biden’s proposed tax plan. Depending on the make-up of the U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate, there may be significant changes coming to the tax code. The individual tax brackets will shift up with the highest tax bracket moving up from 37% to 39.6% as well as a possible increase to the capital gains tax rate depending on the taxpayer’s adjusted gross income. In addition to these changes, there is talk around removing the Section 199A Qualified Business Income deduction which would constitute a major shift in flowthrough taxation as it relates to S-Corporations and LLCs. While this is concerning, it’s not all doom and gloom for most taxpayers. The indication is that taxes will not go up for individuals who make less than $400,000 annually, and there are expansions of current child tax and dependent care credits as Pedro highlighted. The main focus of Congress is most likely to be COVID and economic relief, but there will be tax reform that happens in the 2021 Congressional session and it will be important to stay in communication with your accounting professional so you are readily prepared to take advantage of it when it does come.
gift tax exemption to $11,180,000 per person, with a tax rate of 40% on the excess. With adjustments for inflation, the 2021 exemption amount is $11,700,000 per person. These high exemption amounts remove most people from being subject to estate tax. And keep in mind – with proper planning – a married couple effectively doubles the exemption. The current legislation is scheduled to sunset at the end of 2025, and effective January 1, 2026, the exemption amount will return to $5 million per person. So, there is still time to take advantage of the high exemption amount? There are several points in the Biden Tax Plan giving an indication of possible changes to current estate tax law. The analysis seems to indicate a reduction of the estate exemption to amounts that may be as low as $3.5 million per person. However, not only is the lower exemption amount of significance, but also something to consider is the possible acceleration of a change to take prior to 2025. Other potential changes might include elimination of “step-up” in asset basis upon death, a higher estate tax rate, a tax imposed on appreciated assets at death and reduction of the lifetime gift tax exemption to $1 million dollars. None of these items are law, however; the potential of these changes merits one reviewing their current estate plan and meeting with an estate tax advisor to assess if it would be beneficial to make revisions prior to enactment of new estate tax law. To consult with Osborne Rincon about your tax issues, call Osborne Rincon at (760) 777-9805 or go to www.OsborneRincon.com. Osborne Rincon is one of the oldest and most respected full-service accounting firms in the Coachella Valley.
Is Now the Time to Review Your Estate Plan? By: Bruce Legawiec The start of a new year is always a good time to review one’s estate plan, and this axiom may especially be true with the change in Presidency in 2021. Back in 2017, there were significant changes in tax law that increased the estate and GCCVCC.ORG | 5
2020 Legislative Action Summary and Scorecard
ach year, the Greater Coachella Valley Chamber of Commerce monitors legislation and advocacy activity at the federal, state and local levels of government to ensure the interests of our business community – and the overall economic development outlook of our region – is protected. The work is done in cooperation with the Chamber’s Business Legislative Advocacy Committee, which meets regularly throughout the year and is open to all members of the GCVCC. The positions taken are based on our annual Legislative Advocacy Platform, which can be found on the GCVCC website under the “Legislative Action” tab. The platform is created by receiving feedback and input from a broad cross-section of our membership, representing key industries across the Coachella Valley. It is approved by a majority vote of the GCVCC’s Board of Directors. If you would like to offer input on the GCVCC Legislative Advocacy Platform, please contact Diana Soto, the VP & Director of Public Policy for the Chamber.
2020 GCVCC Legislative Oversight Jeff Levine (Asher & Asher Consulting), Chair of the GCVCC Board of Directors Julio Figueroa (AT&T), Chair of the GCVCC Business Legislative Advocacy Committee Diana Soto (GCVCC), VP & Director of Public Policy Patrick Swarthout (GCVCC), Chief Policy Analyst Local Elected Leaders Congressman Raul Ruiz, M.D. (D), United States House of Representatives, CA 36th Congressional District State Senator Melissa Melendez (R), California Senate District 28 Assemblymember Chad Mayes (I), California Assembly District 42 Assemblymember Eduardo Garcia (D), California Assembly District 56 Voting Key AYE – Voted in Support NAY – Voted in Opposition NV – No Vote Recorded Notes: In cases of opposition the Chamber recognizes NV. Chamber may also recognize votes when placed in action preceding prior passage if a NV is recorded. The Chamber annually takes several positions of advocacy that are not vote related, these items are not reflected below.
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SUPPORT The GCVCC took a position of support on the following advocacy items. Where applicable, the action is accompanied by the vote of our local elected leaders. FEDERAL – H.R. 133, Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021 (COVID-19 Stimulus & Relief) ENACTED INTO LAW Ruiz – AYE FEDERAL – H.R. 748, Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act ENACTED INTO LAW Ruiz – AYE FEDERAL - H.R. 2426, Copyright Alternative in Small-Claims Enforcement (CASE) Act Calendared (Senate) Ruiz – AYE FEDERAL – H.R. 5430, United States-Canada-Mexico Trade Agreement (USMCA) ENACTED INTO LAW Ruiz – AYE STATE – AB 713, California Consumer Privacy Act, CCPA Health Research Exemption ENACTED INTO LAW Mayes – AYE Garcia – AYE Melendez – AYE STATE - AB 831, Planning and Zoning: Housing: Development Application Modifications ENACTED INTO LAW Mayes – AYE Garcia – AYE Melendez - NAY STATE - AB 1281, Fix to California Consumer Privacy Act of 2018 ENACTED INTO LAW Mayes – AYE Garcia – AYE Melendez - AYE STATE - AB 1492, Employment Telecommuting Act. NO ACTION (SENATE) Mayes – AYE Garcia – AYE STATE – AB 1907, Affordable Housing CEQA Exemption NO ACTION (ASSEMBLY)
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2020 Legislative Action Summary and Scorecard Continued STATE – AB-2013, Disaster Relief to Homeowners and Businesses Seeking to Rebuild ENACTED INTO LAW Mayes – AYE Garcia – AYE Melendez – AYE STATE - AB 2043, Agricultural Employers and Employees: COVID-19 Response ENACTED INTO LAW Mayes – AYE Garcia – AYE Melendez - AYE STATE – AB 2421, Mobile Communication Backup ENACTED INTO LAW Mayes – AYE Garcia – AYE Melendez – AYE STATE – AB 2905, Local Workforce Development Boards NO ACTION (ASSEMBLY) STATE – AB 3205, Establish the Regions Rise Grant Program NO ACTION (SENATE) Mayes – AYE Garcia – AYE STATE – AB 3281, Independent Contractors Work Status NO ACTION (ASSEMBLY) STATE – AB 3307, California Manufacturing Emergency Preparedness Act of 2020 NO ACTION (SENATE) Mayes – AYE Garcia – AYE STATE – SB 1352, Renewable Natural Gas NO ACTION (SENATE) STATE – SB 1447, Income Tax: Sales and Use Tax Credit Small Business ENACTED INTO LAW Mayes – AYE Garcia – AYE Melendez – AYE STATE – CA Judicial Council Action Amending Emergency Rule No. 9 as Provided in SP20-01wa AMENDED
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2020 Legislative Action Summary and Scorecard Continued
OPPOSED The GCVCC took a position of opposition to the following advocacy items. Where appropriate, the action is accompanied by the vote of our local elected leaders. STATE – AB 196, Establishes Costly “Conclusive Presumption” of Injury NO ACTION (SENATE) Mayes – AYE Garcia – NV STATE – AB 628, Expansion of Leave Time FAILED PASSAGE (ASSEMBLY) Mayes – NV Garcia – NV STATE – AB 664, Establishes Costly “Conclusive Presumption” of Injury NO ACTION (SENATE) Mayes – AYE Garcia – AYE STATE – AB 1253, Additional Tax on Small Business NO ACTION (SENATE) Mayes – AYE Garcia – NV STATE – AB 1947, Employment Violation Complaints ENACTED INTO LAW Mayes – NV Garcia – AYE Melendez - NAY STATE – AB 2466, Tax on Distributing Bottled Sugary Drinks NO ACTION (ASSEMBLY) STATE – AB 2737, Community Emissions Reduction Programs NO ACTION (ASSEMBLY) STATE – AB 2843, Local Employer Affordable Housing Fees NO ACTION (ASSEMBLY) STATE – AB 2992, Expanded Leaves of Absence ENACTED INTO LAW Mayes – AYE Garcia – AYE Melendez - NAY
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2020 Legislative Action Summary and Scorecard Continued STATE – AB 2999, Protected Leave and Threat of Litigation NO ACTION (SENATE) Mayes – NV Garcia – AYE STATE – AB 3075, Local Wage Payment Requirements ENACTED INTO LAW Mayes – NAY Garcia – AYE Melendez - NAY STATE – AB 3216, COVID-19 Employment Leave Mandate VETOED BY GOVERNOR Mayes – NAY Garcia – AYE Melendez - NAY STATE – SB 37, Corporate Tax Hike NO ACTION (SENATE) STATE – SB 246, Tax on Oil and Gas NO ACTION (SENATE) STATE – SB 850, Shift 28-Day Advance Notice NO ACTION (SENATE) STATE – SB 893, Expands Costly Presumption of Injury NO ACTION (SENATE) STATE – SB 950, Expansion of CEQA NO ACTION (SENATE) 2020 Legislative Report Card Congressman Raul Ruiz, M.D., Vote Record Alignment – 100% State Senator Melissa Melendez Vote Record Alignment – 91% Assemblymember Chad Mayes Vote Record Alignment – 79% Assemblymember Eduardo Garcia Vote Record Alignment – 68% 2020 GCVCC Legislative Effectiveness Report Card 52% Pro Advocacy Efficiency 10 out of 19 legislative bills the Chamber supported were passed into law 82% Opposition Advocacy Efficiency 14 out of 17 legislative bills the Chamber opposed were not passed into law 67% Overall Advocacy Efficiency
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2020 Patrick E. Swarthout Business Advocate Awards
nnually, the Greater Coachella Valley Chamber of Commerce analyzes the voting records of our local elected leaders to measure their alignment with the Chamber’s pro-small business advocacy platform and the positions the Chamber took on proposed business-related laws during the legislative year.
Elected leaders who vote for proposed legislation in line with the Chamber platform no less than twothirds of the time are recognized for their efforts to support small businesses. The award is named for the GCVCC’s first advocacy executive and founder of the Business Legislative Advocacy Committee, Patrick Swarthout. The GCVCC is proud to recognize the following elected officials for their efforts in 2020.
Congressman Raul Ruiz, M.D. (D) United States House of Representatives CA 36th Congressional District 2020 GCVCC Vote Record Alignment: 100%
State Senator Melissa Melendez (R) California Senate District 28 2020 GCVCC Vote Record Alignment 91%
Assemblymember Chad Mayes (I) California Assembly District 42 2020 GCVCC Vote Record Alignment 79%
Assemblymember Eduardo Garcia (D) California Assembly District 56 2020 GCVCC Vote Record Alignment 68%
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California State Laws AB 341 and AB 1826 Is Your Business Compliant? Whether you’re running a business or managing a multi-family property, recycling is your responsibility. And we’re here to help! Recyclables Assembly Bill 341 (AB 341) makes recycling mandatory for businesses that generate four (4) or more cubic yards of solid waste per week and multi-family properties with five or more units. Under AB 341, businesses and properties must recycle. Organics Assembly Bill 1826 (AB 1826) California businesses are required to reduce the amount of organics sent to landfills. Organics include both food scraps and landscaping debris. Organics recycling is mandatory for businesses that generate two (2) or more cubic yards of solid waste (recyclables, waste and organics) per week and multi-family properties with five or more units. At this time, multifamily properties are required to recycle landscaping debris but do not have to provide food waste recycling. Assistance Burrtec District Environmental Coordinators will assist you in establishing or enhancing your current recycle program to meet the State mandated requirements. Please contact us at (760) 340-2113 or www.burrtec.com. For more information on the State requirements please visit: www.calrecycle.ca.gov/recycle
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CALIFORNIA’s BRAND NEW LABOR LAWS: Friends or Foes?
espite the economic and social disruptions of 2020, the California legislature, agencies and Governor Newsom were busy enacting new laws and regulations that affect small and large businesses in numerous ways. This article summarizes several key changes to labor laws that impact our Valley businesses. 1. Minimum Wages Changed for Nonexempt and Exempt Employees: Effective January 1, 2021, minimum wages for all nonexempt (hourly) employees increased to $13/ hour for employers with up to 25 employees and $14/hour with 26 or more employees. Minimum salaries for employees exempt (from overtime) increased as well. Employers with fewer than 26 employees must now pay a minimum salary of at least $1,040/week ($54,080/year). Employers with 26 or more employees must now pay a minimum salary of at least $1,120 per week ($58,240/year). 2. Department of Industrial Relations (DIR) Regulations Require a Written COVID Prevention Plan for All Employers: As of 11.30.2020, the State required all employers with one or more employees to have a written COVID Prevention Plan (CPP) with new types of policies and procedures, implementation and training. The regulations are available at: https:// www.dir.ca.gov/oshsb/documents/COVID-19Prevention-Emergency-txtbrdconsider.pdf. Every employer’s written CPP must meet 12 criteria for the workplace, specified in the regulations, and must include detailed staff training and implementation of safety protocols immediately on the new procedures. Most importantly, compliance is already overdue, and the criteria are not the same as the Centers for Disease Control, your posters or signs from earlier in 2020, or even the Governor’s Guidelines and Employer Playbook in effect earlier last year. Employers must add these COVID-related directives to their Injury Illness Prevention 14 | GCVCC.ORG
Program (IIPP) already required under Labor Code section 6401.7. IIPPs must maintain effective injury prevention programs, timely correct unsafe and unhealthy conditions and practices, comply with employee training obligations, and record implementation. The DIR regulations require every employer to report every case of COVID-19 to their workers’ compensation carrier and to the DIR’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) within one business day and, with three cases of COVID on the worksite(s), require the employer to report an “outbreak” within 48 hours to the carrier, OSHA, the State and local public health departments, and other workers or contractors who were on the same worksite(s). OSHA has the ability to issue a shutdown notice immediately, without notice, if certain conditions are present in the workplaces. Failure to file these reports can result in citations and fines starting February 2021. 3. Assembly Bill 685 Requires Additional COVID Case Reporting and Shutdowns with an “Imminent Hazard”: AB 685, effective 1.1.2021 through 1.1.2023) includes some of the notice requirements in the DIR regulations, but expands on COVID reporting, authorizes shutdowns for “imminent hazards” due to COVID exposure, and defines a “serious violation” and “serious physical harm” at the worksite that could require additional government intervention, hearings and penalties. Under AB 685, if an employer receives notice of a potential exposure of COVID-19 in the workplace (one COVID-19 Case), the employer must, within one business day: • Notify all employees at the worksite; • Notify the union (if any); • Notify employees and the union of any sick leave available; • Notify employees and the union of the
cleaning and disinfecting plan that the employer plans to implement prior to resuming work; • Notify OSHA; and • Notify the state and local public health agencies. Employers must give the public health agencies notice of an “outbreak” (three or more labconfirmed cases of COVID-19 in different households within a two-week period) within 48 hours, and the public health department(s) will publish this outbreak information on its website(s). CAL-OSHA has authority to shut down business operations on any worksite, without the previously required 15-day notice, when OSHA determines that employees are “exposed to imminent hazards.” 4. Senate Bill 1159 Establishes a Presumption that every COVID Case is Covered by Workers’ Compensation: SB 1159, effective 9.17.2020, codified and superseded Governor Newsom’s Executive Order N-62-20, which required that workers’ compensation carriers cover benefits for COVID cases of certain types of employees – first responders, farmworkers, grocery store workers, etc. SB 1159 extends those presumed benefits for all employers with five or more employees, as of September 2020, for COVID cases or “outbreaks” in their workplaces beginning as of 7.6.2020, if certain conditions are met. The presumption can be rebutted by the employer or its workers’ compensation carrier with evidence that the positive COVID case was not work-related.
to report the required information or providing false or misleading information. 5. Small Employers Suddenly Must Provide Leave Under CFRA: CFRA is California’s family leave law that parallels much of the federal Family Medical and Leave Act (FMLA). Before 1.1.2021, CFRA and FMLA only applied to employers with 50 or more employees within a 75 mile radius of the employee requesting leave, and covered only certain family member issues. Also, CFRA and FMLA coverage previously required eligible employees to work for the employer at least 12 months, and at least 1,250 hours during the 12-month period prior to the commencement of the leave. Senate Bill 1383, effective 1.1.2021, expands employee protections under the California Family Rights Act (CFRA), in Government Code section 12945.2, to employers with five (5) or more employees, without any geographical limitation and with more covered family members. Small employers must now provide CFRA unpaid leave for 12 workweeks in a 12-month period for the birth or placement of a child for adoption or foster care; the employee’s own serious health condition; or the serious health condition of the employee’s child, parent, spouse, registered domestic partner, or registered domestic partner’s child, in addition to the employee’s grandparent, grandchild, or sibling. A covered “child” no longer must be either under 18 years of age or an adult dependent. Also, leave is required when an employee or the employee’s spouse,
A critical component of SB 1159 involves an employer’s reporting requirements. If the employer knows or reasonably should know that an employee tested positive, the employer must report the case (but not the employee’s name) to its workers’ compensation claims administrator within three (3) business days, along with other dates and information about the worksite(s) affected. Under the terms of SB 1159, employer reports to carriers of any employees’ positive tests between July 6, 2020 and September 17, 2020 were already due by October 17, 2020. An employer can be fined up to $10,000 for failing GCCVCC.ORG | 15
domestic partner, child, or parent is called to active duty in the U.S. Armed Forces. The 12 weeks of CFRA leave is currently interpreted to be in addition to 12 weeks of FMLA leave, for employers with over 50 employees. Where two parents work for the same company, both have the right to CFRA leave, so it appears that the employer must grant each parent up to 12 weeks of leave. I anticipate challenges to this Bill’s scope and impact on small business, so the concurrent leaves may change upon legal review. 6. Small Employer Mediation Program for DFEH Family Leave Issues: Assembly Bill 1867 requires the Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH) to launch a small employer mediation program to try to resolve employer-employee family leave issues before an employee files a lawsuit. This could reduce the expense and frequency of some discrimination litigation. 7. Paid Sick Leave Use at the Employee’s Discretion: “Kin Care” leave was separate from required paid sick leave before 1.1.2021, but now an employee can designate some of their paid sick leave days as “kin care.” Assembly Bill 2017 gives an employee sole discretion to notify the employer that they will take paid sick leave to care for a family member without any medical reason, in addition to the reasons for leave under the Healthy Workplace Healthy Family Act of 2014. 8. Attorney Fees will be Awarded for Whistleblowers and Employees have Extra Time to File Wage Claims: Assembly Bill 1947 amended Labor Code section 98.7, governing discrimination against an employee, and Labor Code section 1102.5, which governs employees’ whistleblowing about employers’ unlawful conduct and employer liability for retaliating against reporting employees. As of 1.1.2021, an employee has one year, not six months, to file a Labor Commissioner Complaint against their employer with the Division of Labor Standards Enforcement (DLSE), and a successful whistleblower employee can recover their attorney fees following a lawsuit. 16
9. Independent Contractor Law Expanded, Clarified and Complicated: As many of you are aware, Assembly Bill 5 codified into law an “ABC Test” for independent contractor classification and established a complex analysis for gig workers, employees, and hiring entities that involved additional tests and criteria. AB 5 included some exceptions to the rules when it passed, and subsequent amendments added more exceptions over time. Proposition 22, which passed in California last fall, established the voters’ decision to exempt Uber, Lyft and other professional drivers from AB 5’s default position that all workers are employees unless specifically listed in the exceptions. Assembly Bill 2257, effective 9.4.2020, added more exceptions to the list, including musicians, artists, licensed landscape architects, real estate appraisers and more, bringing the total exceptions to 109. AB 2257 also changed the exemptions for business service providers (known as the “business-to-business exemption”) that allow more flexibility in defining the business partner under a contractor agreement. Finally, AB 2257 expanded the ability of referral agencies to establish the business-to-business relationship if certain criteria are met. I suspect this is not the end of “whittling-down” AB5 to be more realistic and user-friendly. 10. Large Employers Must Provide Pay Data by Protected Categories: California employers with 100 or more employees must submit to the Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH) a “Pay Data Report” by March 31, 2021, and annually thereafter. The Report must break down employees by race, ethnicity and sex in ten (10) broad job categories, and must break down employees by “pay bands,” based upon W-2 Form data. Readers can locate summaries of other new laws and TIPS from our legal professionals about how to comply, how to communicate with employees about these new laws, and how to protect business assets on our website, at www.KarenSloatLaw.com.
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