An important vote is coming up in the Senate this week. It’s an amendment I want to bring attention to and illustrate the substantial effect this bill will have on the workforce and our economy.
Last week, the Senate Finance Committee Senators Portman and Cardin submitted the following amendment to extend WOTC and add a new category:
Short Title: Extend and Expand the Work Opportunity Tax Credit
Description of Amendment: The Work Opportunity Tax Credit (WOTC) provides a tax credit between $1,200 and $9,600 per employee for hiring and retaining members of vulnerable groups.
Eligible groups currently include: veterans, TANF, SNAP, and SSI recipients, ex-felons, the disabled, and summer youth employees. WOTC expired on December 31, 2014. This amendment would extend WOTC through December 31, 2015 and would allow an employer hiring someone who has exhausted their 26 weeks of regular unemployment benefits to be eligible for a 40 percent credit on the first $6,000 of wages paid that first year, or a maximum credit of $2,400 per employee.
(excerpt from http://www.ezpolicyblog.com/)
The purpose of the Hire More Heroes Act is to enlarge job opportunities for veterans. Overall, in December 2014 the unemployment rate of our post 9/11 veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan was 6.9 percent while the non-veterans rate was 5.3 percent according to BLS. The unemployment rate for male veterans in this group is 7 percent and women veterans 6.6 percent, and it is worth noting that 755,000 of these outstanding young men and women veteran are not in the workforce and those not in the workforce has increased by a quarter of a million since last year.
Some of them are in school but certainly our slow-growth economy has taken its toll on veterans who’ve given up looking for work. Among these are 50,000 veterans who, on any given night across our country, are homeless according to HUD.
Like our veterans, another group of fine men and women who’ve already contributed much to our economy, but have now fallen on hard times, deserve consideration in this bill. Research shows that unemployment is a stigma just as poverty is a stigma, and WOTC offsets that stigma by improving job opportunity at a cost to the government that is capped at a modest level—the employer still pays employee wages, benefits, and payroll taxes. Based on estimates the Joint Committee on Taxation made for last year’s Senate EXPIRE bill, the cost of adding the long-term unemployed as a new WOTC target group is about $135 million a year, which would bring the total cost of a one-year extension of WOTC for 2015 to $1.5 billion. The Department of Labor in fiscal year 2013—the last year WOTC was up and running—certified 1,591,000 workers for WOTC, which makes the average cost per worker approximately $960. This is the lowest cost of any Federal jobs program.
I want to implore state senators, CEOS, and other influential members to help our workforce continue to grow and help support the Portman/Cardin amendment to H.R. 22 The Hire More Heroes Act.