The Prevent Defense
Whether you’ve been in business for a while or you’re just getting started, you want to be sure that you don’t get penalized unnecessarily.
Keeping current on your filings and taxes and making sure you’re in regulatory compliance can keep your business healthy, wealthy and wise. Nothing’s worse than getting audited or hit with substantial interest and penalties because you decided it was more important to pay a near-term expense than your taxes. As noted earlier, the penalties and interest can kill you.
Plenty of federal, state and local agencies are ready to assist you in making sure that you are in compliance. Be proactive in contacting any agency that may appear to have some say over some aspect of your business. As they say, it’s better to be safe than sorry.
Here’s a list of some of the agencies that may have regulations or requirements that we haven’t covered elsewhere in this playbook. Remember, they are on your team unless you choose to ignore their role in your operations.
CONSUMER PRODUCT SAFETY COMMISSION. These are the folks who regulate product standards.
DEPARTMENT OF LABOR. Oversees worker issues such as the federal minimum wage, overtime requirements, equal employment opportunity, etc. Note that Washington State’s minimum wage exceeds the federal standard as do several municipalities and the state’s own Department of Labor & Industries will have regulations in addition to the federal ones.
DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE. Regulates food safety, product labeling, use of pesticides, crops, livestock, etc.
OFFICE OF THE ATTORNEY GENERAL. Oversees consumer protection and other aspects related to business.
DEPARTMENT OF ECOLOGY. Regulates waste, pollutants, water rights and air quality.
DEPARTMENT OF FINANCIAL INSTITUTIONS. Regulates franchise requirements, business investments, business loans, etc.
HUMAN RIGHTS COMMISSION. Regulates public accommodations, non-discrimination, etc.
LIQUOR AND CANNABIS BOARD. Regulates liquor and marijuana licensing, educates and enforces laws and regulations on the production, sale and serving of these substances.
DEPARTMENT OF NATURAL RESOURCES. Regulates forest practices, mining, etc.
GOVERNOR’S OFFICE FOR REGULATORY INNOVATION AND ASSISTANCE. Helps businesses and citizens navigate the permitting, licensing and regulatory environment.
UTILITIES AND TRANSPORTATION COMMISSION. Regulates taxi and limousine services, moving and trucking services, etc. More information: http://www.utc.wa.gov
WASHINGTON STATE GAMBLING COMMISSION. Regulates gambling, including casinos, horseracing, bingo, Internet gambling, raffles and fundraising events.
WASHINGTON STATE LOTTERY. Regulates the sale of lottery products, licensing of lottery retailers.
COUNTY HEALTH DEPARTMENTS. Regulate food establishments, food trucks, environmental health and hazardous materials.
COUNTY ASSESSORS. Provide valuations of business real estate, equipment, furnishings and other assets for property tax purposes.
CITIES. Regulate zoning, signage and parking, and issues building and business permits.
FIRE DEPARTMENTS. Oversee compliance with fire regulations.
CITY OF SEATTLE. Has a paid sick leave requirement and minimum wage laws that exceed the state minimums.