Do you have policies in place to avoid discriminatory employment practices in hiring, firing and employing people?

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A small business must make sure its employees know about its policies against various forms of discrimination.

Have you filed the required forms for unemployment, worker’s compensation and payroll withholding?

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There are myriad requirements for complying with unemployment, worker’s compensation and payroll withholding under State law.

Do you have an employment handbook with policies to protect and guide you and your employees?

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An employee handbook provides important instructions for employees and important guidelines to employers and supervisors. A good employee handbook can help you avoid liability for workplace violations.

Have you collected appropriate information from your employees to ensure their legal status?

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The federal government requires you to collect certain information when hiring employees to make sure they have a legal status to work in the United States.

Are you structured to avoid (or, in some cases, take advantage of) double taxation?

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Most small businesses want to avoid double taxation. Have you structured your entity to accomplish this? In some cases, it may be advantageous to be subject to double taxation as there are different rules and rates that apply to a corporation compared to an individual. Have you considered if there are situations that would be better for you?

Are you structured to best avoid the risk of being audited?

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Some structures are more likely to be audited than other structures. If you have audit concerns, have you structured your entity in a way that reduces your risk of IRS audits?

Are you managing your start-up expenses in a way that maximizes their tax value?

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Many small businesses have large start-up expenses. Depending upon your tax situation, you may want to try to deduct these expenses or you may want to capitalize them and depreciate them over time. Have you carefully considered the most tax advantageous way to handle start-up expenses?

Have you adopted strategies to reduce your unemployment taxes by separating wage compensation from payments to owners?

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Most earnings by a small business with an involved owner would be subject to employment taxes as well as income taxes. Employment taxes can eat into more than 15% of your income. It is possible to structure your business in a way to reduce employment taxes.

Are your trade secrets protected?

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There are many easy and simple things you can do in your business to keep your trade secrets protected – such as confidentiality agreements, non-disclosure agreements and limiting the people who are aware of the true secrets of your business.

Have you protected your name against unauthorized use by others?

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Have you registered your name as a trade name? Have you obtained copyright protection for your name? Many States make this a fairly easy and inexpensive process. As you think about future expansion, you should also consider obtaining federal trademark protection f or your trade name.