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Wednesday, May 27, 2015

How Wages Work (Part 1)

How Wages Work

An exert from

Very few of us work for free. But not everyone gets paid in the same way. You might be paid hourly, on a salary, by commission or work mostly for tips. Many different federal and state laws govern how much people can be paid and when. These laws also dictate how much we have to pay for taxes and whether certain jobs, like ones that require overtime or dangerous work, should pay more.

In this article, we’ll explore all aspects of wages -- from the legal side, to the types of wages, to taxes, to how much money you’ll finally take home. Because there are so many different state laws concerning wages, we’ll focus mainly on federal law. It’s always a good idea to check with a labor lawyer or your state’s Department of Labor to learn more about laws that may apply to your state.

The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) is the most important law covering wages. Originally passed in 1938 but amended many times since, the FLSA sets standards for minimum wage and
overtime pay, affecting most private and public employees. A nice feature of this law is that wherever it may overlap with state law, the law dictating higher standards is obeyed. This feature has become especially important with minimum wage, allowing individual states, cities and counties to pass their own minimum wages laws that are higher than the federal minimum wage.  For 2015, the federal minimum wage is $7.25 per hour; however Montana State has a higher minimum hourly wage of $8.05 which must be observed. 

The Act applies to all employees involved in interstate commerce, a definition that is generally very broad -- a business that receives telephone calls or mail from other states may be deemed to be engaging in interstate commerce. Firms that do more than $500,000 in business annually are usually covered under ­the act, and the following businesses are covered no matter their volume of business:

  • Government agencies
  • Hospitals
  • Institutions that take care of the sick, elderly or disabled
  • Schools

Domestic service workers are covered if they earn at least $1,400 in wages from an employer in a year or if they work more than eight hours a week. 

Child Labor and Hazardous Work

The Act requires employers to pay at least the federal minimum wage and 1.5 times the regular rate of pay for overtime calculated on a weekly basis. It also contains provisions regarding which jobs minors can do and the hours they can work. Children under 16 years of age are allowed to do non-agricultural work, but children under 18 years of age are prohibited from doing work that’s considered “too dangerous” - meaning the work could potentially present a health or safety hazard. According to the U.S. Department of Labor, some examples of hazardous work are:

  • working with or around explosives
  • working with heavy equipment, such as power-driven saws, metal working machinery and manufacturing equipment
  • logging and sawmill work
  • working with radioactive materials
  • demolition work
  • roofing or other intense height-related work
  • operating motor vehicles

The FLSA allows children under age 16 to do agricultural work, but only during non-school hours.

The FLSA includes a prohibition against the shipment of goods produced in violation of minimum wage or overtime regulations or involving child labor. It also prohibits gender-based discrimination.

Contrary to what one might think, federal law does not require employers to give you paid vacation or sick days, overtime for working on holidays, raises, benefits of any type or a reason for termination if you’re fired. However, most employees have come to expect these perks (among others), and companies generally offer them to maintain morale among employees and to remain competitive when searching for talent.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Honoring Memorial Day

In honor of Memorial Day, our office will be closed 
Monday, May 25th. 

Monday, May 11, 2015

Thinking of Starting a Small Business?

Big Sky Economic Development 

Small Business Development Center
Guiding Montana Businesses to Success

Below you’ll find answers to the most frequently asked questions when deciding to build your new business.  

 I am thinking of starting a business. Where do I start?
Here are some first steps to follow if you are thinking of starting a business:
  • Ask yourself, “Why do I want to go into business?” “What are the main reasons for wanting to start a business?” Determine whether your reasons are based on realistic expectations.
  • Conduct a “Self-Assessment” survey of your skills and abilities to understand what your strengths and weaknesses are.
  • Research the market and industry you are interested in.
  • Take a Pre-Business Workshop class through your local SBDC.
Is there a start-up checklist?
This will vary by type of business, but there is a general start-up checklist on our website under Business Checklist.

How do I obtain financing?
The first step is to determine how much money you need by figuring out:
  • Start-up expenses
  • On-going monthly expenses
Most common sources of financing are:
  • Commercial Lenders
  • SBA 7A Loan Guarantee Programs
  • SBA 504 Fixed Asset-Lending Program
  • Big Sky EDA Revolving Loan Funds
  • BLX Community Express Loan Program
What sorts of documentation will a lender need to see?
In order for a lender to be able to make a credit determination, he/she will need to see the following:
  • Personal Financial Statement for all owners
  • Three years of tax returns for all owners
  • Completed business Plan
  • Credit reports for all owners
  • Minimum of 2 year cash flow projections
  • Source and Uses Statement
Are there any grants to start a small business?
Contrary to what you might have heard, grants are generally not available for ‘for profit’ businesses.

How much cash down is a lender expecting?
As a general rule of thumb, 20-30% of the total project cost. This is favored by the type of business and the personal financial capacity of the borrower(s). 

 Do I need any licenses or permits?
To determine whether you need a professional license, contact the Professional and Occupational Licensing Bureau of the State Department of Labor and Industry at 406-841-2300.

What do I need to do to hire employees?
If you are going to hire employees you will need to get an employee identification number (EIN) from the IRS. You will also need to obtain workers compensation insurance and understand the wage, hour and child labor laws. You can obtain more information on the Montana Department of Labor and Montana Department of Revenue websites.

How do I determine my start-up costs?
Research. Gather information and obtain price quotes to help determine your start-up costs and expenses. Talk to similar businesses to get an idea on costs, and check average industry sales.

What is a business plan?
A business plan is an outline overview of what your business is and how it is going to operate. It provides a game plan for directing and guiding your business, and can be used as a great tool for communicating your business to potential investors and banking institutions.

Why do I need a business plan?
A business plan is used to help obtain financing, but also as a tool to think through the development of your business and ensure that you have considered all the potential challenges and opportunities. It will also help you determine whether your idea is feasible or not.

Is there a basic Business Plan Outline?
Yes, there are many business plan outlines available. Our Business Plan Guide provides a great outline on how to write a business plan. The Billings SBDC can also assist you with the process of writing a business plan. Attending our Pre-Business workshop is the best place to start, followed by one on one counseling with a Business Advisor.

Where can I get help with market research?
The counseling staff at the SBDC can assist you with market research techniques. Please call to schedule an appointment. The Business Information Center (BIC) is an extensive business library available for your use, and an excellent resource for market research. There are also a number of helpful websites highlighted under “Business Resources” Market Research.

Where can I get help with all this?
The Billings Small Business Development Center (SBDC) can assist you. Please call to schedule an appointment, or fill out the Request for Counseling Form at

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Employment Opportunity at Gardner & Billing CPAs PLLC

Office assistant/receptionist position, with flexible summer hours available at the office of Gardner & Billing CPAs PLLC.  Responsibilities include answering phone, scheduling appointments, assisting clients at the front desk.  Additional responsibilities may include entry level bookkeeping, project assistance, office file maintenance, and other general office tasks.  Training will be provided.  Familiarity with Microsoft Office (Word, Excel, Outlook) will make a successful candidate.  Good communication skills and the ability to multi-task in a fast paced team environment considered a plus.  

Submit a letter of application with your resume to Gardner and Billing CPAs, PLLC    PO Box 629, Broadus, MT  59317, or drop it off at the office at 113 E Wilson.    Position will be available immediately.