Why Closing the White House Scientific Department Is Bad News for Women
The White House science division is no more. The last three members of the science division of the White House’s Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) closed the door on June 30, and one marked the moment with an epic tweet: “science division out. mic drop.”
science division out. mic drop. pic.twitter.com/RoYTJqLoXa
— Elle Celeste (@elleabella1112) June 30, 2017
While there are 35 remaining OSTP members across all departments, it’s a big drop from the more than 100 staffers the office employed during the Obama administration.
We know this administration has a controversial relationship with science. Climate change skeptic Scott Pruitt runs the Environmental Protection Agency, and President Trump created an uproar when he recently announced that the US would withdraw from the Paris climate agreement.
So why are we talking about this? Well, this closure could really affect women, and not in a great way. This was the department that led policy for Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) fields, biotechnology, and crisis response. Women in tech are already a minority, with only 25 percent of computer jobs being held by women. Now that the White House OSTP department has closed, we’ve lost a key authority to help recruit and keep women in STEM careers.
The timing is not great. We’ve all been following the ongoing conversations about the toxic culture that Silicon Valley’s tech bro culture can foster — most recently, workplace scandals at Uber that culminated in CEO Travis Kalanick’s indefinite leave of absence. One of the reasons that this anti-woman culture is able to flourish is because girls and women aren’t entering STEM fields as often as men. Those that do are leaving in droves due to harassment and the dude-bro atmosphere.
But here’s the really important part: Fewer women in these fields means bad news for the rest of us. Simply put, a diverse field means a diversity of experience and perspective to enrich innovation. Not having that diversity in place can be literally deadly.
Think we’re kidding? Women were killed by the first generation of airbags because the designers and engineers forgot that women are generally shorter than men and are closer to the steering wheel. For decades, heart disease and heart attacks were considered a guy’s problem and, as such, most research focused on them and not enough on women.
Without women in these fields, a lot of medical, scientific, and technological research might omit us. Change usually comes from the top down, but with no one at the science division of the OSTP to create change, women are the ones who will lose out.
What’s your take on the future of women in STEM? Tell us @BritandCo!
(Photos via Getty)
Welcome to Selfmade Finance School, our new money series with Block Advisors to help small business owners with their tax, bookkeeping, and payroll needs year-round. This week, we explore the tax implications of bringing family members into your business.
The question for today is this: Does hiring your family members make sense for your business? Let me be clear. This is not a piece about whether hiring your family members makes sense for your relationships with those family members. As someone who is part of a family business, I could fill up a lot more than 600 words on my opinions about that. For today's purposes, we focus on whether it makes sense from an overall "good business and tax implication" perspective. As it turns out, there is a decent amount of tax nuance when it comes to employing your family. Let's break it down based on relationship to the employee:
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Spouses Who Are In Business Together
Personally, if I had to be in business with my husband, it would not go well. However, many couples build viable, strong businesses together and I say, good for them! Depending on how you have your business entity structured, it will make a big difference on the tax treatment of you and your spouse working as partners. Because a business jointly owned and operated by a married couple is generally treated as a partnership for Federal tax purposes, the spouses must comply with filing and record keeping requirements imposed on partnerships and their partners. The election to file two Schedule C (Form 1040) forms, (one for each spouse) permits certain married co-owners to avoid filing partnership returns, provided that each spouse separately reports a share of all the businesses' items of income, gain, loss, deduction, and credit. Under the election, both spouses will be subject to self-employment tax and on net earnings from self-employment and receive credit for Social Security earnings.
One Spouse Employs Another
If you have a dynamic where your spouse is an employee of your business, then your spouse's wages are subject to income tax withholding, Social Security and Medicare taxes. If you are self-employed (not a corporation or a partnership), your spouse's pay does not have to be included in your federal unemployment tax account (FUTA) contributions and payments. However, if your business is a corporation or a partnership you must include that spouse's pay in your unemployment tax contribution calculation.
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You Employ Your Child
First, let's be clear. I work in my family business, but I am an adult, so I am treated just like a normal employee. However, if you, for example, run a family restaurant and want to hire your children under 18 to work for you, there are some tax benefits. But first, you should check with your state for rules on how many hours minors can work (in non-agricultural jobs) and reference the Fair Labor Standards Act for information on limitations on the kinds of work children can perform.
"This is an often overlooked or under-utilized strategy. Paying your children for true services they provide in your business can be a powerful tax-saving tool," says Cathi Reed, Block Advisors Regional Director. "If you are a sole-proprietorship or single member LLC, and the child is less than 18 years of age, the business is not required to withhold FICA or payroll taxes. The child can use his or her standard deduction against income you pay."
You Hire Your Parent
Oh dear. If you are brave enough to do this, know that you will need to pay Social Security and Medicare taxes on your parent's wages and make the appropriate withholdings, but you don't have to pay unemployment taxes. Now all you have to do is convince your parent that you are the boss. Have fun with that!
Is Hiring Family Members Worth It For The Tax Benefits?
"There are some positive tax advantages to hiring family members. It's important to treat a family member like any other employee. Hiring your children can result in substantial savings for businesses. Make sure your child has real, age-appropriate work to do and a reasonable pay rate, comparable to other employees. Consult with a Block Advisors small business certified tax pro to ensure that you are complying with all requirements," advises Reed. "Block Advisors, a team within H&R Block, is dedicated to meeting the tax, bookkeeping and payroll needs of small business owners year-round. To start working with the tax experts at Block Advisors, visit blockadvisors.com."
In my opinion, you should not hire a family member solely because of the tax benefits. You should always hire based on whether that person is right for the job and keep in mind how this hire could materially impact your relationship with that person and others in your family. Finally, as I mentioned, make sure you have a tax professional on your team when making these determinations. As you can see, things can get a little tricky!
*All details were sourced from IRS.gov and blockadvisors.com