With the advent of the New Year of 2018, there is an onslaught of NEW laws in the State of California as well as the recently passed Tax Reform passed by Congress.  Here’s a brief   insight into 10 laws that could effect you as well as an introduction to the new tax reforms.


  1. Vehicle registration fee increase: As part of SB 1, drivers will pay between $25 and $175 more for vehicle registration at DMV.


  1. Recreational-use marijuana: The sale and cultivation of recreational-use marijuana is now legal in California as of Jan. 1.


  1. Marijuana use in vehicles: Effective Jan. 1, drivers will be prohibited from smoking or ingesting marijuana or marijuana products while driving or riding as a passenger in a vehicle.


  1. Minimum wage increase: For the second year in a row under SB 3, the minimum wage increased to $11 an hour, as of Jan. 1, for more than 2 million workers in California.


  1. Sanctuary state of California:  SB 54  restricts the ability of state and local police in California to cooperate with U.S. Immigrations and Customs Enforcement agents.


  1. Ammunition sales: As of Jan. 1, ammunition purchases must be made in person through an authorized firearms and ammo vendor.


  1. Gender identity on driver’s licenses:   SB 179 removes the requirement that people have to choose either male or female on their identification documents.


  1. Guns banned at schools: AB 424 bans firearms on campus altogether.


  1. Buses and seat belts: Beginning July 1, anyone riding in a bus is required by law to be properly restrained by seat belts, if the bus is equipped with them.


  1. High school exit exam: AB 830 permanently eliminates the exam as a condition of graduation.


  1. Fee Increase for Deeds: Beginning January 1st of this year, there was an increase in the amount of the deeds being filed by at least $75.00 per deed for the State of California. According to SB 2, this increase is to fund California’s affordable housing crisis.


  1. Bars and ride-sharing: Calling for a safe ride home could get even easier, thanks to a new law that goes into effect Jan. 1. AB 711 will allow alcohol companies and businesses to team up with ride shares, like Uber and Lyft, as well as taxi services, to give out vouchers or promo codes for discounted rides.


  1. Baby changing tables in bathrooms: Changing diapers is no longer just a woman’s job, and because of AB 1127, diaper-changing stations will be a requirement in both women’s and men’s public bathrooms. This applies to new construction or restrooms that undergo significant renovations.


  1. Rescue animal sales: AB 485 bans pet stores from selling dogs, cats and rabbits unless they are rescue animals. The law aims to prevent California pet stores from selling animals bred in puppy mills and other mass-breeding operations.


  1. Job salary history: Under AB 168, employers will no longer be able to ask job applicants about their salary history, compensation or benefits. Employers will also be required to disclose pay scales for a job if the applicants asks for them. Prohibits employers from seeking or asking about a job applicant's salary history, compensation or benefits. It also requires employers disclose pay scales for a position if it is requested by a job applicant.


  1. Free college: As part of a nationwide push by Democrats to provide free higher education, AB 19 is the first step in that process, waiving the fee for first-time students who enroll full time in California community colleges.


  1. Neighborhood voting: In an effort to bolster declining voter turnout, SB 450 replaces neighborhood polling places with elections done mainly by mail. Every voter will receive a mail-in ballot, which they can then take to a drop-off location up to four weeks before Election Day.


  1. Car window tinting: Under the previous law, drivers were prohibited from having tint or any other material or display that “reduces the driver’s clear view through the windshield or side windows." AB 1303 allows drivers with a medical condition certified by a dermatologist to tint their windshields, side and rear windows to protect them from ultraviolet rays.


  1. Crossing the street: Pedestrians who cross the street while the red hand signal is flashing will no longer be penalized for doing so. Under AB 390, if the flashing red hand symbol appears and there is a countdown to indicate how much time pedestrians have left to cross, walkers are legally permitted to do so.


  1. More Time Off For New Parents: Planning to welcome a new child in 2018? If your employer has more than 20 employees, it will be required to give you up to 12 weeks of unpaid maternity or paternity leave for new parents (including adoptions and foster care) to bond with your new child. Employees can use any accrued vacation time, sick time or any other paid-time off to spend time with their new child. It also protects new parents from losing job and health care benefits during time off.


  1. 'Ban The Box' Criminal History On Applications: Here's another new law for employers. Beginning Jan. 1, employers will be banned from considering one's criminal history until employment is offered.


  1. Immigration Detention Centers: Prohibits new contracts between local governments and corporations that run immigration detention centers.


  1. Worksite Immigration Enforcement: Prohibits employers from providing federal immigration agents access to nonpublic areas of a work site unless they have a judicial warrant. Also prohibits employers from providing employee records to immigration agents unless there is a subpoena or judicial warrant.


  1. Student Immigration Status: Prohibit public schools, including community colleges, California State University and University of California campuses from collecting information about student citizenship or immigration status and that of their families.


  1. Pets Housing: Tenants in new housing developments will be allowed to have one or more pets in their home if the development receives financing through state programs.

          However, not all new laws waited until 2018 to go into effect. The state's gas tax went up 12 cents per gallon on Nov. 1, 2017, to pay for pothole repairs and improve public transit.


          In December, Congress passed and President Trump signed the TAX CUTS AND JOBS ACT into law.  Ultimately, what this means is that there is a larger standard deduction for everyone ($12,000 vs. $8,700 for single filers and $24,000 vs. $12,700 for joint filers.)


The seven tax brackets remain, however, and Congress has adjusted them to reflect a growing and vital economy. However, Congress has tweaked the rates and the income levels at which they apply.


          Prior to the new law, the seven tax brackets were 10 percent, 15 percent, 25 percent, 28 percent, 33 percent, 35 percent and 39.6 percent.


          Now, the tax code pegs the new rates at 10 percent, 12 percent, 22 percent, 24 percent, 32 percent, 35 percent and 37 percent.


          By comparison, the way the seven tax brackets worked before versus now are as follows:


2017 2018
10%—$0 to $18,650  10%—$0 to $19,500
15%—$18,651 to $75,900 12%—$19,501 to $77,400
25%—$75,901 to $153,100 22%—$77,401 to $165,000
28%—$153,101 to $233,350 24%—$165,001 to $315,000
33%—$233,351 to $416,700 32%—$315,001 to $400,000
35%—$416,701 to $470,700 35%—$400,001 to $600,000
39.6%—$470,701 or more  37%—$600,001 or more
Standard Deduction = $12,700 Standard Deduction = $24,000
Personal Deduction = $8,100 Personal Deduction = Eliminated


          Overall, this will be good news for most of us as about 70% of Americans claim the standard deduction when filing their taxes. Ultimately, our paychecks will almost certainly increase — albeit slightly. And who doesn’t like to see an increase in their salaries and paychecks?