By Ken Berry
Just a week after this year's Veterans Day, President Obama signed new legislation providing a tax credit to employers who hire military veterans. The VOW to Hire Heroes Actis a small piece of a much larger jobs bill that has stalled in Congress.
According to White House data, approximately 240,000 veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan remain unemployed, while a total of 850,000 veterans overall are out of work. To compound the problem, the Obama administration reports that 1 million other service members are expected to return to civilian life by 2016. "No veteran who fought for our nation should have to fight for a job when they come home", said the president.
The new law allows a company to claim a tax credit of up to $2,400 if it hires veterans who have been looking for work for at least one month. The maximum credit is increased to $5,600 for hiring veterans who have been searching for work at least six months. And employers may be granted a $9,600 tax credit for hiring out-of-work veterans with service-related disabilities. The new legislation also provides job training to help returning vets return to work.
Under prior law, qualified veterans are included as one of the target groups eligible for the Work Opportunity Tax Credit (WOTC). The WOTC is currently scheduled to expire after December 31, 2011.
A Department of Defense official said that the agency will expand its programs to help returning veterans."Combat is incredibly tough business, and we are finding that the human toll on a 10-year veteran, the physical and mental toll, it is incredible", said Philip Burdette, principal director of the Office of Wounded Warrior Care and Transition Policy. "As we end the war in Iraq and wind down in Afghanistan, we are absolutely planning for returning service members."
Finally, in a separate provision, the new legislation repeals the three percent withholding requirement for payments made by federal, state, and local governments to contractors for goods and services. The withholding requirement, which was established by a 2006 law, was scheduled to take effect in 2013.