Law & Order

IT’S NOT TOO LATE TO EXPENSE $250,000 WORTH OF NEW BUSINESS EQUIPMENT

Last February, Congress raised the annual expensing limits to $250,000 (from $128,000) for 2008 when a company purchases new machinery and equipment.  Otherwise, the cost is generally spread over a number of years as the property depreciates in value. The depreciation is referred to as a "Section 179 deduction" and appears on IRS Form 4562 (Depreciation and Amortization). The election must be taken in the tax year the property was first placed in service. Lawmakers also included a bonus depreciation deduction of 50% for 2008 and increased the phase-out cap based on total equip

FEDS DELAY START DATE FOR “SIMPLIFIED” FEDERAL LIGHTING STANDARD

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has delayed the effective date for the revised lighting standard, Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard (FMVSS) No. 108, from September 1, 2008 to December 1, 2009. The extra time is necessary to confirm that there were no changes of substance as the agency completed its two-year mission to reorganize and simplify FMVSS No. 108. 

OFF-ROADERS MAY GAIN ACCESS TO 2 MILLION ACRES IN UTAH

Nearly 2.1 million acres of land in central Utah would be open to off-highway vehicles (OHVs) and energy development under a proposed resource management plan issued by the federal government. The land is controlled by the U.S. Bureau of Land Management’s (BLM) Richfield office and located in Sanpete, Sevier, Wayne, Piute, Garfield and Kane Counties. Among other actions, the plan would permit substantially increased OHV use in the Factory Butte badlands area, which has been subject to restricted access due to concerns about endangered plants. 

GOVERNMENT INCREASES SAFETY OVERSIGHT OF CONSUMER PRODUCTS

President Bush intends to sign into law legislation to increase the authority of the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) to protect the public from unsafe or substandard products. The CPSC has jurisdiction over more than 15,000 consumer products, from toys to refrigerators. The agency has been a focus of attention following a number of consumer product defects in 2007, from toys to pet food and pharmaceuticals. The landmark legislation was passed with near-unanimous Congressional consent and will increase the CPSC’s resources, authority and testing requirements.  

CONGRESS NEARING ACCORD ON SEMA-SUPPORTED INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY PROTECTIONS

A comprehensive bill to combat global counterfeiting was recently introduced in the U.S. Senate.  The “Enforcement of Intellectual Property Rights Act of 2008” has strong bipartisan support and is similar to a SEMA-supported bill that already passed by the U.S. House of Representatives. 

Several of the key provisions included in the bill are listed below.

Enhancements to Criminal Intellectual Property Laws:

FEDERAL MINIMUM WAGE INCREASES TO $6.55

The federal minimum wage increased to $6.55 on July 24. This is the second $.70 increase in the last year. In 2007, President Bush signed into law a SEMA-supported measure that balanced a minimum wage hike with $4.8 billion in small-business tax breaks. The wage rose from $5.15 to $5.85 in July 2007. The wage will increase again to $7.25 an hour in July 2009. The tax relief package increased the tax code’s annual expensing limits to $125,000 for 2007 and 2008.

GOVERNMENT CRAFTS RECOMMENDED "BEST PRACTICES" FOR IMPORTERS

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is seeking public comments on a draft "best practices" for importers. The guidelines are intended to reduce the likelihood that imported automobiles and auto parts may contain safety defects or not comply with federal safety standards. NHTSA joins a number of federal government agencies that are pursuing the same initiative for other types of consumer products, from toys to pet food and pharmaceuticals. The goal is to compile useful advice when a company outsources its products.

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