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Regulatory Wrap-Up: Paid leave tax credit added to the U.S. Senate tax reform proposal



Overtime Regulations: Labor Secretary Acosta told the U.S. House Education & Workforce Committee that he is considering including an automatic cost of living escalator in the new overtime regulations. Meanwhile, the department is conducting an ongoing review of the overtime regulation following a court decision halting the Obama-era rule. That regulation included a cost of living escalator for the first time since Congress empowered the agency to update the rule decades ago.

Belmont, CA: The city council approved a minimum wage increase that escalates quicker than the state wage. The city law will increase the minimum wage to: $12.50/hr on July 1, 2018; $13.50/hr by Jan. 1, 2019, and; $15/hr on Jan. 1, 2020. The statewide law calls for incremental increases up to $15/hr by 2023.

Las Cruces, NM: City officials have announced their intent to delay the automatic cost of living increase to the city-wide minimum wage for two years. The city minimum wage will stay at $9.20/hr. for 2018.

St. Paul, MN: With a newly elected mayor who ran on passing a $15/hr minimum wage, servers in St. Paul are mobilizing, asking city council members to include a tip credit in any new mandate. Wait staff in neighboring Minneapolis conducted a similar campaign but were ultimately unsuccessful.

Montgomery County, MD: As expected, County Executive Ike Leggett signed the new $15/hr minimum wage increase into law. The new mandate allows for an opportunity wage, which is 85% of the full minimum wage for the first six months of employment for workers under 20 years old. The mandate will phase in over the next few years, more quickly for larger employers. All employers, regardless of size, are subject to the $15/hr requirement by 2024.

Paid Leave

U.S. Senate: A paid leave tax credit was added to the U.S. Senate tax reform proposal this week. Under the proposal, companies that offer two weeks of paid leave to their workers would be eligible for a tax credit of 25% of an employee’s leave time earnings. The bipartisan proposal enjoys wide support, however detractors point to the likelihood that while the credit will be helpful to companies who currently provide leave, it may not be enough to encourage new companies to consider leave policies.


Tax Reform: The U.S. House passed the Republican tax reform package on a largely party line vote. Thirteen Republicans from high income tax states (CA, NJ and NY) opposed the bill due to the elimination of the deduction for state and local taxes. The legislation cuts the corporate tax rate to 20% and eliminates other tax breaks and deductions. The U.S. Senate Finance Committee also advanced legislation. It differs from the U.S. House-passed bill and faces a tougher path in the Senate where the Republicans only have a two vote majority. Senator Ron Johnson (R-WI) has already announced he will not support the bill in its current form. Two more defections would kill the legislation. Should legislation advance through the U.S. Senate, the two differing bills would need to be reconciled in a conference committee before advancing to President Trump’s desk.

Washington: Following the state’s passage of a new law last summer, Amazon announced it would begin mandating sales tax collection on third party sales via its marketplace website. The move will further encourage other states to follow suit as they seek to collect similar taxes owed on third party sales accounting for over half of the retailer’s overall sales.

Data Security

Equifax: In a rare move, all 50 states have filed a complaint against Equifax in the wake of the data breach that compromised the social security numbers and other financial details of over 145 million Americans. These actions are in addition to the several dozen individual lawsuits that have already been brought against the company. Numerous congressional committees have also initiated investigations and are requesting detailed information from the company regarding the cause of the breach. Several legislative efforts at the federal and state level are underway that will impact other entities that collect personal information.


U.S. Congress: The 2017 Miscellaneous Tariff Bill, which would reduce import tariffs on a variety of products, was formally introduced in both the U.S. Senate Finance Committee and the U.S. House Ways and Means Committee. Supporters cite the International Trade Committee’s findings that tariff reductions on the specific products covered in the bill would not cause harm to U.S.-based manufacturers.

NAFTA: The fifth round of the three-country talks will conclude on Tuesday in Mexico City. The lead negotiators for each country were not present at this round, signaling that the ongoing discussions are not proceeding well. Several controversial proposals have been put on the table by the Trump Administration for which there is little support from Canada or Mexico. The timetable for the negotiations has been extended until March but most observers do not expect agreements to be made by then unless the U.S. drastically shifts its approach.

Key Takeaways

• The tax reform process is critically important for Republicans to have some sort of “big” legislative win this year yet they still have a tough legislative and political road ahead in the Senate. The results of last Tuesday’s elections coupled with the late inclusion of repealing the individual mandate of the ACA, make the politics of tax reform very different than they were just a few weeks ago.  Operators need to make their priorities known to their Senators and other key allies on Capitol Hill.

• When Labor Secretary Acosta appeared in front of the House Education and Workforce Committee this week, one of the topics discussed was requiring greater disclosure and regulation of union-affiliated groups, like the Fight for $15, the Restaurant Opportunities Center and OUR Walmart. The Labor Secretary indicated that the agency is considering the issue. Unions are increasingly relying on organizing through these out
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