Year-end auto buying tips
Former Block exec to get $2.55 million

Jan. 1 brings new state laws,
tax and otherwise

The new year always brings with it changes, especially in the legislative area. has put together a nice compendium of new state laws that take effect today.

Here are some key tax-related ones:

  • Happynewyear_2 Massachusetts, which set a precedent last July with the first U.S. law requiring each of its uninsured residents who can afford health care to buy it, now goes a step further. Starting today, every able Bay State resident who hasn't gotten health insurance will lose a state income tax exemption and get slapped with monthly fines.
  • Texas begins levying a $5-per-customer charge at strip clubs, aka the "pole tax" blogged about here, with the proceeds going to a fund to help rape victims. Club owners have filed suit to half the charge.
  • Oklahoma taxpayers can now go to a Web site that will list corporate tax breaks and disclose how the state is spending its money.

Hawaii's lowest wage earners now can claim tax credits of up to $160 and some Aloha State condo owners will get a break on the state's capital gains tax. Details in this Honolulu Star Bulletin story.

And the new year also brings some tax relief to our neighbors to the north. Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper announced a cut in the country's goods and services tax (GST). The GST will fall from 6 percent to 5 percent in 2008, accounting for $6 billion in tax relief for Canadian consumers. More in this story.

2008_2 Other notable statutes: Beyond taxes, there are some other new U.S. laws that also will affect residents' pocketbooks in 2008.

Stateline notes that the mortgage lending crisis, for example, has led to changes in several states:

  • Starting today, California and Colorado mortgage brokers must follow federal lending guidelines.
  • New York loan officers must undergo a criminal check and register with the state.
  • And back to Colorado, homeowners will have 110 to 125 days to catch up on payments before their homes are sold, compared to 45 to 60 days previously.
The federal minimum wage finally was hiked last year, but states have always been ahead of this curve. That trend continues in 2008. The minimum wage will increase today in 14 states, ranging from a 10-cent bump in Montana to a $1.05 surge in Iowa.

And finally, California offers the most interesting … yeah, that's the word, interesting … law to officially go on the books this New Year's Day.

The Golden State now is the third state to prohibit businesses from injecting microchips into employees without the workers' consent. It's already the law in Wisconsin and North Dakota.

Two questions:

  1. What companies really need to track their workers 24/7 via this technology?
  2. How would they implant the microchips without the employees knowing?


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