It Pays to Hire Vets

As Veterans Day 2018 concludes, I am reminded that it has been fifteen long years since the US led coalition crossed over the Kuwaiti border, marched, rode and flew into Iraq to begin extended military operations in the Middle East. This campaign has produced nearly a generation of war-time Veterans, distinguished with their own distinct strengths and struggles, opportunities and obstacles.

Every year thousands of these brave men and women make the transition back to civilian life, in search of their earned share of The American Dream. The State and Federal governments recognize the need to help our Veterans find pathways to purposeful careers and have established lucrative tax credits for employers to train, hire and retain prior active duty servicemen and women.

One such Federal Tax credit is the “Work Opportunity Tax Credit” (WOTC). This credit is intended to support Veterans that find themselves unemployed and is available to businesses that employ any Veteran that has had an aggregate period of unemployment of at least four weeks in the prior year. The amount of the credit ranges from $6,000 – $24,000 per qualifying employee and is limited by the amount of wages paid to the Veteran. The amount of credit the business can take is dependent upon the amount of time in which the veteran has been previously unemployed and whether or not he or she has a service related disability.

Several States have enacted similar credits available to reduce state taxes paid. New York State offers the “Hire a Veteran” Credit, which is less complex compared with the Federal credit and allows for employers to reduce their state income tax for wages paid to any Veteran that is hired and retained for at least a year of employment. The credit is limited to the amount of wages paid up to $5,000 for qualified Veterans and $15,000 for qualified disabled Veterans. According to New York State a qualified Veteran is anyone who served on active duty for any branch of the military and has received either a General or Honorable discharge after September 11th 2001.

These tax credits are applied per Veteran and directly reduce the business’ tax bill, so it is easy to see how a few key-hires can help keep needed cash in the hands of the business owners. It literally pays to hire veterans, but the money saved pales in comparison to the value added to the company’s workforce. This current group of war-time Veterans entering the labor pool have various unteachable skills. They are disciplined professionals and proven leaders who are tested and able to perform under pressure.

Today’s Veterans are eager for mentorship, but it’s often difficult for them to know where to start the process, especially considering they’re often away from home for five to twenty years and haven’t had the time to lay down roots in their new communities. Therefore, employers with the intent to bring Veterans on board should be proactive. Contact the Veteran liaison at the local community colleges or call The New York State Department of Labor and ask for resumes of potential candidates. Most state colleges have Veteran’s clubs full of ambitious individuals ready for internships or apprenticeships.

Our Veterans have made sacrifices, so that we can safely pursue our American dream and they deserve the opportunity to seek a meaningful and fulfilling career. For more information on the Work Opportunity Tax Credit or the NYS Hire a Vet Credit, use the following respective web addresses:

https://www.irs.gov/businesses/small-businesses-self-employed/work-opportunity-tax-credit
https://www.tax.ny.gov/pit/credits/hire_a_veteran_credit.htm.

Andrew Porr, CPA, is an OIF Veteran and currently an associate with RBT CPAs, LLP (an Alliance Member of RSM US LLP), a tax, audit and consulting firm with offices in Newburgh, Poughkeepsie, Wappinger’s Falls and Wurtsboro. He can be reached at 845-567-9000 or aporr@rbtcpas.com.

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