Flanked by veterans and Delaware National Guardsmen, Gov. Jack Markell, D-Del., announced a new statewide effort to help put some of our nation’s combat veterans to work when they come home, in the form of a tax credit.
The “Veterans Opportunity Tax Credit” would give companies a $1,500 annual tax credit for each recently returned veteran they hired.
“In the last ten years, millions of Americans have served their nation in Iraq or Afghanistan – putting themselves directly in harm’s way, thousands of miles from home. But when they came home, so many found – and some still find – that the recession that had years of devastating effects on our national economy was hitting even harder veterans,” Markell said. “That’s no way to thank someone for serving. This effort encourages employers to put our veterans to work here at home.”
How the tax credit would work, any business can take a 10 percent tax credit of the gross wages paid to qualified veterans, with a three-year cap of $1,500, so the total benefit to the employer could be $4,500 per veteran hired. According to state lawmakers, private sector businesses can use the credit against personal income taxes, corporate income taxes, bank franchise taxes and insurance premium taxes. Because the tax credit is refundable, businesses without tax liabilities can use the tax credits immediately.
Statistics show unemployment among veterans sits below the national average, except for veterans who have served since 2001. Jan. 2012 numbers show the national unemployment rate among recently returning veterans was 9.1 percent, a drop from 15.2 percent a year ago. However, that figure is still well above the national average of 8.3 percent.
National efforts like President Obama’s “Vow to Hire Heroes Act,” has helped, but Rep. Earl Jaques, the lead sponsor of the bill, chair of the House Veterans Affairs Committee and a 36-year veteran of the Delaware National Guard himself, said the state needs to do more.
“One in six homeless people are veterans, and with all of our military members returning home, we don’t want those numbers to swell,” said Rep. Jaques, D-Glasgow. “Today’s veteran is not from your father’s military. They are technologically savvy and have operated in some of the worst conditions imaginable, so companies who hire them will get an outstanding employee.”
“I think it’s a good idea because it will give employers an incentive to give veterans a second look,” said Sen. George H. Bunting Jr., D-Bethany Beach, who is a decorated Marine veteran of the Vietnam War and is the lead Senate sponsor. “We know veterans have a lot of skills that employers value – they are disciplined, willing to work and take responsibility. This incentive might give an employer the nudge they need to help our returning veterans land on their feet with a good job.”
The bill has bipartisan support in both chambers.