A recognised leader in research and development and a wealth of resources at your disposal, incorporating a new business in the US is often a more straight-forward and quick process – so if you’re thinking about expanding into the states, here’s what you need to know about US payroll and HR.
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As a non-resident of the US you have two main options for setting up a new business:
As the US is so large, wages can differ between federal and state governed amounts, and it can get a little bit complicated to follow (especially when hiring people across multiple states). But we’ve got a run down of all the federal and state minimums on employees pay that you need to know.
The federal minimum wage is set out by the government in the US, and every state must provide it, unless they decide to create a higher state minimum.
The current minimum wage is: $7.25 for most employees.
But not everyone in the US qualifies for the minimum wage. Anyone who works is a role which receives tips have a lower minimum wage. This can be jobs like servers, bartenders, hotel workers or taxi drivers (among many others).
These employees have a minimum wage of $2.13 per hour. The amount in tips plus the $2.13 must reach at least $7.25 per hour or the employer must make up the difference.
In the US there’s a few different things which can be deducted from an employee’s wages before they receive it, and taxes are one of the biggest and most commonly occurring.
There are two types of income taxes that can be deducted – federal and state.
Federal tax rates are created by the government, and these apply to everyone.
In the US, your federal income tax rate is calculated based on your income and tax filing status. This means that the tax deducted can range from 10 – 37% (and this is before any state-taxes are also added).
The filing statuses are:
Doing business in America, you’ll find that there are benefits which need to be provided to your employees, as well as a range of supplementary benefits you can offer. To many employees this is something which they look for during the recruitment process and can be equally as important as job role or salary.
Benefit requirements can vary from state to state but the most commonly occurring statutory benefits are medical insurance, retirement plans, paid sick or vacation leave and family or medical leave.
There is currently no federal requirement to offer medical insurance. However, in some states medical insurance is something an employer is required to offer based on the company size.
As there is no universal healthcare in the US, many employees will expect a good health insurance plan to be offered by their employer to help cover any medical expenses that arise, and this is something they might negotiate in their contracts.
Right now, there are five states and one district where health insurance is required:
Under the Affordable Care Act, employers with 50 or more full-time employees (or full-time equivalents) must provide health insurance coverage to 95% of their full-time employees. If they fail to meet this requirement, they’ll owe a penalty to the IRS. (Employees who work 30 or more hours per week are considered full-time.)
Preparing for retirement can be vital to many employees. But in the US, there is currently no federal mandated retirement plan. Many states do have a mandate which employers must follow based on number of employees, length of time in the business and current retirement program.
Many companies in the US will offer additional benefits to insurance and pensions, and these can be the selling point for many employees when looking at a accepting a job.
Some of the complementary benefits you might find in the US are:
Sick leave is a bit of a tricky one, as there is no federal sick leave policy for short term illness and employers don’t have to offer time off (or pay) when an employee calls in to work unwell. However, under the Family and Medical Leave act (FMLA) employees will be covered to take unpaid leave for long-term illness.
Some cities and states do however offer sick leave to employees.
FMLA is an act which allows eligible employees to take unpaid, job-protected leave for specified family or medical reasons. Whilst employees are on family or medical leave they must remain under health insurance coverage at the same conditions as if they had not taken leave.
FMLA applies to employers with over 50 employees.
The entitlement under FMLA is:
Caring for a covered service member with a serious injury or illness if the eligible employee is the service members spouse, child, parent or next of kin.
When launching an overseas presence for your business, you will always be faced with a choice. In the US, you can create an American branch of an existing business or create a subsidiary company.
The best way to open a branch in the US is to apply as a C Corporation. A C Corporation works by paying a flat business tax rate of 21%, regardless of annual profit. Any dividends paid to members of a C Corporation are also taxable on their individual tax return—this ‘double taxation’ is considered a negative element of opening a branch in the US. Corporations are also more tightly regulated by the authorities.
Your other option is to create a subsidiary business. This is known as a Limited Liability Company, or an LLC. The owner of an LLC is not personally responsible for any debts or legal difficulties incurred by the business, and all directors are known as members
None! There is no minimum share capital requirement for creating a LLC, C Corporation or an S Corporation. However, if you want citizenship as part of your business enterprise, then you need to invest $1 million to qualify for an EB-5 green card.
Yes! Unless stated otherwise in a contract or the employee is part of a labour union, contracts can be terminated at will in the US, provided it is not for an illegal reason. This is a double-edged sword, as it also allows employees to resign without notice. Employees can still make claims for unfair dismissal, so ensure you have good reason to terminate a contract. If making mass redundancies or liquidating a business, it is considered good practice to offer 60 days’ notice to employees.
The Medicare tax is withheld from an employee’s salary. This is a contribution to America’s national health program. The rate of Medicare tax is assigned by the IRS, but it’s typically 1.45% of a salary. All employees and business owners must pay the Medicare tax, regardless of income.
There are two types of entrepreneur Visa available to British business owners looking to establish themselves in the US. Both last for five years at a time. The E-1 Visa is available to British business owners that can show that 50% of more of their custom comes from the United States.
The E-2 Visa, meanwhile, is based upon an international treaty between the UK and US governments. To qualify for an E-2 Visa, you’ll need to prove that you are making a substantial investment into an American business and will be able to support yourself while also hiring local employees.
You could also apply for an L-1 Visa if you can prove that your SME will benefit the American economy. This Visa will initially be restricted to just one year, though. You will need to apply for an extension after this period. The success of this application will depend upon the financial performance of your business.
A green card is a permit that allows a foreign national to permanently live and work in the US. You can earn a green card as a skilled employee of a US business. If you wish to gain a green card as a business owner rather than an employee, you have four options:
Want to find out more about Cintra Global? We’d love to hear about your global expansion plans and tell you about how we can support you with your international payroll, HR, and expansion needs.