With unemployment among recent Staten Island veterans under age 30 at nearly 20 percent, U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) was joined today by local elected officials, Staten Island veterans, members of the Staten Island Chamber of Commerce and businesses who have employed new veterans at the Sgt. Michael J. Labetti Post to announce a new effort to make tax credits for businesses that hire recent veterans permanent. The Work Opportunity Tax Credit that Senator Gillibrand helped establish last year encourages businesses to hire recently-returned soldiers from Iraq and Afghanistan in exchange for a 40 percent credit on the first $6,000 paid to a veteran. The tax credit is set to expire at the end of this year.
"Too many Staten Island veterans are still coming home to a very bad job market and struggle to find work," Senator Gillibrand said. "They fulfilled their duty to our country, and now it's time for us to fulfill our duty to them by making sure they have access to a good-paying job. The tax breaks we put in place are a win-win for businesses and veterans, and now we need to make them permanent so we can continue supporting businesses, create jobs, and put more of our Staten Island veterans to work as they come home to their families so they can succeed in the economy."
"Everyone should have the opportunity to find an honest-paying job, but no one more so than our veterans," Representative Michael E. McMahon (D-Staten Island/Brooklyn) said. "Providing tax benefits to our local businesses if they hire veterans is a practical solution to the growing unemployment rate among our veterans. I commend Senator Gillibrand for taking up this cause in the Senate and will continue to work with her and my colleagues in the House to extend this common-sense tax credit."
"It is essential that the program which gives tax credits to businesses that hire veterans, enabling them to earn family supporting wages, be made permanent," Assemblymember Janele Hyer-Spencer (D-East Shore/Brooklyn) said. "By doing so, we ensure that the troops returning home receive our support and get the jobs they so deserve. These veterans have served our country honorably and Staten Island is proud to let them know that we appreciate the sacrifices that they have made. It is vital to both our local businesses and our veterans that we continue this program."
"By making these tax credits permanent, we can help to ensure that our veterans have financial stability upon their return home from service, as well as help provide our businesses with growth opportunities and much needed tax relief," Assemblymember Matthew Titone (D-Staten Island) said.
"Our Veterans have sacrificed much for our country, often returning home from Iraq or Afghanistan after multiple deployments to face the challenges of unemployment and the inability to provide for their families. Veterans deserve our reciprocal support as they endeavor to re-enter the civilian workforce," City Council Member Debi Rose (D-Staten Island/49th District) said. "The Work Opportunity Tax credit initiative established by Senator Gillibrand provides businesses more than an incentive to hire veterans, it allows businesses to benefit from the experience, education and training veterans received in the Armed Forces while giving businesses the opportunity to receive tax credits, and providing meaningful employment for our Veterans, clearly a win-win situation for all. I applaud and support Senator Gillibrand's efforts to ensure the permanence of the Work Opportunity Tax Credit as it re-enforces our commitment to helping our military men and women find work as well as support business growth and the creation of jobs."
"UPS supports America's hardworking men and women in uniform and has been recognized as one of the best employers of veterans," UPS District Security Manager Pat Moran said. "In these tough economic times, programs like the Work Opportunity Tax Credit help to spur job growth, while also providing our troops with more opportunities."
"The Chamber of Commerce proudly supports extending the Work Opportunity Tax Credit for businesses that hire veterans," Linda Baran, President & CEO of the Staten Island Chamber of Commerce said. "With unemployment at nearly 10% statewide, putting people to work must be the country's number one priority. Helping our military veterans find jobs when they return from overseas reduces unemployment while, at the same time, shows we are thankful for their service and care about their welfare."
The New York State Department of Labor indicates that nearly 20 percent of veterans under the age of 30 are unemployed, and more than 7 percent of all veterans across New York State are unemployed. Estimates based on this data and U.S. Census data show that in Staten Island, more than 1,800 veterans are unemployed, with nearly 140 veterans under the age of 30 unemployed.
Jobs for Veterans, Tax Cuts for Businesses
The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act that Senator Gillibrand helped pass last year expanded the Work Opportunity Tax Credit to include new incentives for businesses to hire returning veterans, and extended them through the end of 2010.
UPS, Barnes & Noble, and J.C. Penney all have utilized the tax credit over the past year and employed several returning troops from Staten Island. Statewide, businesses have hired more than 500 New York veterans using the credit.
To raise awareness of the tax credit, Senator Gillibrand has been working closely with local Chambers of Commerce across New York State to encourage their member businesses use the tax credit, and hire New York veterans returning home. In return for hiring a veteran, businesses may write off 40 percent of the first $6,000 paid to a veteran. The veteran needs to be out of the service for no more than five years.
The Defense Department would also be required to issue information about the tax credit to exiting service members, and provide documentation to demonstrate their eligibility for the credit.
To continue supporting businesses as they work to grow and create jobs, Senator Gillibrand is now working to make this tax credit permanent so all veterans will have better opportunities for a good-paying job as they return home to their families.
Senator Gillibrand announced a full agenda last year to create jobs for recent veterans, support veteran entrepreneurs, and help homeless veterans get back on their feet.