Posted on January 11, 2019 in General
Several groundbreaking new laws went into effect in Florida on January 1st, 2019. New Year’s Day means new laws surrounding state and federal minimum wage, sales taxes, alimony, voting rights, and more. As a responsible Floridian, it is your job to keep up with the latest laws and regulations.
Tax reform has made a few significant changes to state and federal tax laws. One major change comes from the federal government, in the form of new tax rules for alimony payments. As of New Year’s Day, 2019, all divorce cases and other separation decrees will follow new taxation rules for alimony, or spousal support. In the past, the person paying alimony (the spouse with greater income) would enjoy relief from a tax break. The payer could list alimony payments as deductions during tax season.
On the other side of things, the recipient of an alimony payment would have to list it as income and pay taxes on it. The new law reverses both of these previous rules. Now, alimony payers will not be able to list spousal support as deductions. They will lose this tax break, which previously helped to move settlement agreements and mediations forward. Recipients will not have to pay taxes on alimony checks, but that does not mean they come out ahead. The tax change for payers means alimony amounts will shrink, in relation to the payer’s after-tax income.
The state of Florida also passed new tax laws and amendments for 2019. There will now be a 10% cap on the annual increase of property tax assessments for non-homestead properties, thanks to Amendment 2. Hillsborough County passed a 1.5% sales tax hike, with a half-cent of every dollar going to county public schools and the other cent going toward transportation improvements. The increase makes the county’s sales tax the highest in the state. Finally, the passing of Amendment 5 makes it more difficult for lawmakers to raise taxes in the future.
Minimum Wage Increases
Good news for Florida workers – starting January 1st, 2019, the state’s minimum wage will increase from $8.25 per hour to $8.46 per hour. The minimum wage for tipped workers will rise to at least $5.44 per hour, with at least $3.02 in tip credits. Florida was one of 22 states to increase its minimum wages on New Year’s Day, 2019.
Felon Voting Rights
Felons in Florida will now have the right to vote, thanks to the passing of Constitutional Amendment 4, which restores the right to vote to people with prior felony convictions. The only convicted felons who still cannot vote are those who committed murder crimes or felony sexual offenses. Someone with an eligible prior felony conviction may vote in 2019 after completing his or her sentence, including parole and probation. Before this amendment, former felons had to wait at least five years to make a request to restore their voting rights.
Online Patient Care Prices
The healthcare industry continues to go digital, with the passing of a new federal law that requires hospitals to post a list of standard patient charges online. The goal of the new law is to put patients in control of their healthcare. It will encourage pricing transparency and ideally put an end to hidden costs and fees. All hospitals across the country must now publish full lists of patient services prices online, in a downloadable format. Hospitals must update their price lists annually.
Rehabilitation facilities, critical access facilities, and psychiatric hospitals in the U.S. will also need to comply with the new law. Not-for-profit hospitals that calculate service charges based on patients’ income will also need to post prices, although some facilities worry this will put off potential patients. A separate law is also in the works; one that would require pharmaceutical companies to publish drug prices in advertisements. This law would create an incentive for companies to make drugs more affordable for consumers.