For three weeks I’ve been trudging through the foothills of job creation, getting acclimated to the terminology. Last week I settled into base camp and followed advice from the Governor’s Office of Regulatory Assistance (ORA), which recommended “looking at Section 2 of the Grow chapter at http://www.ora.wa.gov/business.asp.” A sensible mountaineer is willing to study the guidebook before attempting to summit a new peak, and this is definitely beginning to feel like a Himalayan effort.
As discussed in last week’s installment, finding time to focus on a new task is difficult for any small business owner. Checking out the “helpful” links for new employers on the ORA website started late Wednesday night and stretched into Thursday morning. At 1:15 am I was ready to give up on creating a job, but like the climbers in John Krakauer’s “Into Thin Air,” I am continuing out of sheer stubbornness.
Previously I clicked through the ORA’s Workforce Explorer links to develop a job description, but declined to pursue assistance in training or posting the job. I checked out the link referencing federal tax credits, and it involves a lot more paperwork. If I happen to hire someone from one of the favored groups (“veterans, food stamp and welfare recipients, recipients of Supplemental Security Income, ex-felons and certain youths”), maybe I’ll give it another look. A $2,400 tax credit will not drive any business to hire.
The next links sent me to download the federal Internal Revenue Service (IRS) Form W-4 Withholding, IRS Form I-9 Employment Eligibility Verification (due within 3 days of hire), and state Department of Social and Health Services (DSHS) New Hire Reporting Program information (filed on line within 20 days of hire). I’m going to need a timetable to keep this straight.
The second set of bullet points on the ORA website is preceded with the following cheerful statement “Employment is also an area of significant recordkeeping and tax responsibilities. It’s important that you understand the regulations and costs as you plan your business.” The first link is titled Employment Law Advisor, and the link was broken. Better check back this week.
The remaining links on the list directed me to:
- WA Department of Labor & Industries: Downloaded 58 pages of checklists, forms, laws and regulations related to wage and hour laws, independent contractors definitions, and workers’ rights. Downloaded another 40 pages titled “Employers Guide to Industrial Insurance in Washington State.” Also bookmarked link to Washington Industrial Safety and Health Act (WISHA), too lengthy to download and will have to return to the web to read up on an employer’s responsibilities.
- US Department of Labor: Don’t know what this form is, the link was broken. Not helpful, must remember to check back.
- WA Employment Security Department: First link focused on warning about classifying someone as an independent contractor. Second link to information on unemployment insurance led to a maze of websites, mostly focusing on how to claim benefits. Finally stumbled on the link to the employer’s side of the deal, and bookmarked for return at a later time.
- US Internal Revenue Service: More warnings about independent contractors, and links to online Publication 15 Employers Tax Guide and Publication 15A Supplemental Employers Tax Guide. Also links to Forms 943, Instructions to Form 943 and yet another supplement related to tax credits.
- WA Department of Social and Health Services: Downloaded 16 page document titled “Employer’s Guide to Child Support.” Apparently I may have to serve as a collection agent if I hire someone who is delinquent in child support payments.
Without a high speed internet connection, any new employer would be in trouble. Although many of the websites have instructions on how to contact an agency, order publications or file offline, you still have to be online to find them. And why is the government so fixated on making sure workers aren’t independent contractors? My cynical suspicion is because it’s harder to control and collect taxes on independent contractors, and not out of concern for working conditions.
It looks like I’ll be in Base Camp 1 a little longer, reading up on all my new responsibilities as I try to create a single job. My little molehill seeking to employ a part-time hired hand is turning into a major mountain.
For previous stories in the series, see the links below:
[photo credit: jjwright85]