9. Immigration: Immigration reform is expected to be a top focus in the President’s second term, including efforts by Congress to pass legislation to preempt recent state and local laws. The trend of increased enforcement in the area of Form I-9 audits is likely to continue after a record number of worksite inspections in 2012. The release of a revised Form I-9 is expected in early 2013. The pilot program for E-Verify, the federal government’s Internet-based employment verification tool, was extended for another three years in late 2012. While its use remains voluntary for most of the country, some states have made it mandatory for some or all employers, and other employers may be required to utilize E-Verify under federal regulations. More comprehensive requirements could be implemented at the federal level as part of an overall immigration strategy.
10. Consumer Financial Protection Bureau: With President Obama’s re-election, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is likely to play an even more prominent role in overseeing banks and credit unions as well as “non-bank financial institutions” such as mortgage companies, payday lenders, and debt collectors. As these expanded activities evolve, small businesses could see direct or indirect effects on how they interact with their customers and employees, as well as potential changes in their relationships with banks and lenders.
11. Cyber Fraud: The steady increase in cyber fraud, especially against small businesses that may lack the resources to implement sophisticated security methods, will likely continue to be front of mind in 2013. Federal anti-cyber fraud legislation is a distinct possibility to better protect the nation’s critical infrastructure against hackers and other criminals. Many states are also likely to further expand or strengthen regulations requiring businesses to employ adequate security over confidential personal and medical information.
12. Business Continuity: Hurricane Sandy vividly reinforced the importance of a sound business recovery and continuity program. Even small businesses should ensure their key vendors have adequate processes to ensure uninterrupted service in the event of extreme weather or other unforeseen circumstances, and have crucial documents maintained at an alternative location for protection and adherence to retention guidelines for materials such as tax returns, business filings, and other financial documents.
13. FDIC Insurance: Without Congressional action, the current unlimited Federal Deposit Insurance Corp coverage for noninterest-bearing checking accounts will expire in 2013, reverting back to the normal $250,000 per account. The discontinuation of this unlimited federal insurance, enacted as part of the original Dodd-Frank legislation, has led many small businesses—who often use smaller, community banks—to consider shifting their operating funds to the perceived greater safety of larger banks or spreading balances out among multiple institutions, keeping deposits under the $250,000 cap in each.