The year isn’t even a week old, and already there’s a lot of new stuff to keep up with. So we’ve gathered some of the important news that will affect your business in 2012 in one handy location.

You need to display the National Labor Relations Act poster… but not yet. Ordinarily, employment posters must be displayed by Jan. 31, but the NLRA poster doesn’t have to be put up until April 30. The delay is due to the controversy surrounding the National Labor Relations Board’s amendment of union election rules. Previously, a minimum of 25 days had to elapse between a workforce deciding to hold a union election and the election itself. Under the new rules, that waiting period could be as short as 7 days. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce has sued the NLRB to challenge these new rules, so there might be further delays down the road. Stay tuned…

FUTA tax rates have gone up in 21 states. For the 19 states that have missed interest payments, their FUTA rate for 2011 is 1.1 percent for January through June and .9 percent for July through December. These states are: Arkansas, California, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Kentucky, Minnesota, Missouri, Nevada, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Virgin Islands, Virginia and Wisconsin. Indiana’s rates are 1.4 and 1.2 percent, while Michigan’s rates are up to 1.7 and 1.5 percent. These taxes must be deposited by Jan. 31 using our dear friend, the Form 940.

The Social Security payroll tax will remain at 4.2 percent… for the next two months, anyway. In one of the most boneheaded moves on record, Congress voted to extend the 2-percent reduction in the SSI payroll tax, but only for two months. The bookkeeping, accounting, tax and paperwork nightmare that will result from this boggles the mind. We’re expecting more updates on this one, too.

Minimum wage has gone up in 8 states. Minimum-wage workers in Arizona, Colorado, Florida, Montana, Ohio, Oregon, Vermont and Washington will see increases of 28 to 37 cents an hour.

California: Wage theft law is now in effect. A new state law requires employers to provide information on wages to employees at the time of their hire. Unfortunately, the form that the California Division of Labor Standards Enforcement issued doesn’t work for staffing firms or staffing associates because it mistakenly gives the impression that the company where the associate is assigned is that associate’s employee. Fortunately, the American Staffing Association has a suggested notice form that works with the law and with staffing practices. Good luck, Californians!

The good news is that you have two more days to file your income taxes. There’s no ellipsis followed by a qualifier here; it’s just a good thing. Because April 15 is a Sunday and April 16 is a holiday in Washington, DC (Emancipation Day), you don’t have to file your income taxes until April 17. Maybe we’ll get a longer extension next year to make up for that whole two-month payroll tax ridiculousness.

The federal standard business mileage rate hasn’t changed. That’s not really “what’s new,” but this rate tends to change in January (except for last year, when it changed in July — what is with this Congress???) so you might be wondering if it’s changed this time around. It hasn’t; it’s still at 55.5 cents per mile. That’s the amount up to which employers can reimburse employees for mileage without the reimbursement having to be counted by the employee as income.

The adoption assistance benefit has changed; it’s gotten smaller. If your business offers adoption assistance benefits, the maximum amount of adoption-related expenses that can be excluded from a worker’s income is now $12,650 per child. (That’s a decrease of $710 from last year.)


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