Small business owners don’t have to rely on scary ghost stories this Halloween. There’s enough tall tales going around to spook any business owner. From uncertainties surrounding the health-care reform act to rumors about long-term effects of the government shutdown, here’s a look at four myths put together from online legal website Rocket Lawyer, and what small business owners really need to know about each.
Spooky Myth 1: Small businesses face lawsuits for not providing health coverage
To say the health-care reform has been confusing to business owners and consumers is an understatement. With different groups wanting different outcomes from this, there is a ton of misinformation out there. One of those scary, but untrue myths is that business owners will get sued if they don’t offer their employees’ health coverage. The truth: according to Rocket Lawyer 97% of businesses in the U.S. aren’t required to provide health insurance for their workers because they employ fewer than 50 workers. Even if your business employs more than 50 workers, the employer mandate to offer health insurance doesn’t kick in until 2015.
“Businesses with over 50 full-time equivalent employees are exempt from the fee on their first 30 full-time workers greatly reducing the negative effect the law could have on businesses who just barley qualify as a large firm,” says C. Mario Jaramillo, Rocket Lawyer On Call attorney.
Spooky Myth 2: I can go it alone when naming my company
Let’s face it, the name of your company becomes your brand, so you want to come up with something that is catchy and unique. Easier said than done given there are 4 million small businesses in the U.S. While many small business owners think they can go it alone and not work with an attorney when it comes to naming their business, doing that can be wrought with danger. After all you don’t want to pick a name, throw it on all your marketing material to find out a few weeks later the name is taken.
“The last thing you want to do is start your business with a legal battle over your name because it is being used by someone else,” says Jaramillo. “This can severely deplete your resources which should be spent on growing your business, not fighting for it from the get-go.”
Spooky Myth 3: Being incorporated will always protect your personal assets
Nobody wants to mix their business expenses with their personal ones, which is why many small business owners will incorporate their business. While that will protect their personal assets most of the time, it won’t protect them all of the time. For many small businesses starting out, the owner will have to co-sign to purchase the assets they need to run their business. When they co-sign, they are personally on the hook if the business defaults, even if they are incorporated, according to Rocket Lawyer. It’s also a bad idea to mix your personal and business funds, because it will reduce your protection if creditors come calling.
“Make sure you don't commingle funds,” says Jaramillo. “Using company funds for personal items can expose your personal assets to creditors by giving them the opportunity to ‘pierce the corporate veil’ and claim that your company is really just a ‘shell’ of yourself.”
Spooky Myth 4: Tax bills delayed due to government shutdown
While the government shutdown was a reality of late, it didn't push back any tax deadlines. According to Rocket Lawyer, parts of the IRS, particularly the one that collects money, was open for business during the recent shutdown. To be sure, in a press release earlier this month the IRS said the shutdown doesn’t affect the federal tax law and that all taxpayers should continue to meet their tax obligations as normal.
“Failing to pay income taxes and employee Social Security and Medicare taxes draw the attention of the IRS and, rest assured, the tax man will cometh,” says Jaramillo.
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