As thousands of veterans return home from Iraq and Afghanistan, the tough economy is taking a toll. A new provision, signed into law by President Obama, would encourage companies to hire new veterans by providing a special tax break. However, New York businesses are not aware that they are eligible because the IRS is still working to implement the new tax break. Joined today by New York State Senator Eric Adams, Assemblyman Adriano Espaillat, and local veterans, Senator Gillibrand launched a new public awareness campaign to encourage employers to hire new veterans and take advantage of the new tax break.
"While we have a moral responsibility to provide new veterans with economic opportunity, hiring veterans is a win-win for all of us," said Senator Gillibrand. "The work ethic and character of our veterans will make them some of the most productive and successful members of our workforce, aiding our economic recovery over the long term. Over the next several months, I plan to work with businesses in New York to encourage them to take advantage of this new tax break and provide economic opportunity to our men and women returning home from Iraq and Afghanistan."
Three out of four new veterans cite difficulty translating their military experience into a new job. Unemployment among young veterans doubles the national average and is higher than their non-veteran peers. In fact, unemployment among veterans, ages 18 to 24, was over 14.1 percent in 2008 - a figure on the rise as America continues to climb out from this economic downturn.
President Obama's economic recovery plan, which Senator Gillibrand helped pass earlier this year, expands the Work Opportunity Tax Credit, so that businesses that hire new veterans will receive a tax break. However, the IRS has been slow to issue final guidance and the proper forms for this tax credit, which will expire at the end of 2010. As a result, businesses across New York and across the country are missing out on these temporary incentives, and too many veterans continue to go jobless.
To speed the process and put New York veterans to work, Senator Gillibrand is reaching out to every single Chamber of Commerce across New York State to make their members aware of new incentives and encourage them to hire local veterans.
Senator Gillibrand is working closely with the IRS Commissioner to implement the new tax break and ensure that businesses receive all the final forms and instructions they need to take advantage of the savings. Beginning today, all the forms and materials are now available and can now be accessed on the web at www.irs.gov.
Additionally, Senator Gillibrand is contacting the Adjutant General of the New York Guard and the New York State Veterans Administration to make sure they know that these job opportunities are available to new veterans.
To qualify for this tax credit, veterans must have separated from the military in the last five years and must have spent at least four weeks of the previous year on unemployment. In return for hiring returning soldiers, businesses may write off 40 percent of the first $6,000 paid to hired veterans on the business's taxes.
Senator Gillibrand has always been a strong voice for New York's veterans, their families, and those serving today. As a member of the House of Representatives, Senator Gillibrand served on the Armed Services Committee and helped shape the new G.I. Bill - the first major update to the landmark legislation in decades - to ensure all members of the military, including National Guard and Reserve members have access to the educational opportunities they deserve. Earlier this month, Senator Gillibrand introduced the Providing Real Outreach for Veterans (PRO-VETS) Act, which would require the Veterans Administration to line new veterans up with the benefits they've earned to make sure they aren't getting tangled in bureaucracy and red tape when trying to access the health care and other benefits they need and deserve.