Today at J.M. Martinac Shipbuilding, U.S. Senator Maria Cantwell (D-WA) highlighted progress in extending tax cuts for businesses that hire unemployed veterans and wounded warriors. Martinac is in the process of building the largest fishing vessel currently under construction in the United States, the Northern Leader, and expects to hire approximately 50 workers in the next several months. Veterans historically make up 40 percent of Martinac's workforce.
While in Tacoma, Cantwell toured the shipyard of J.M. Martinac Shipbuilding and saw construction of the Northern Leader, which is being built for Alaskan Leader Fisheries to operate in the freezer longline fleet. Cantwell is the champion of legislation (S. 1609) signed into law in December 2010 that created a cooperative for the freezer longline fishery, where companies are allocated set harvest quotas. The cooperative eliminates the race for fish and enables companies to harvest more value from each catch, helping to increase profit by 20 percent and spur investment in new fishing vessels with greater processing and storage capacity. The Northern Leader will have greater processing capacity and one of the largest freezer hold capacities of any longliner vessel.
Cantwell was also joined today by Chris Winters, business representative for the International Union of Painters and Allied Trades (IUPAT) Local 1964.
"Last month, 31,000 veterans returned here to Washington state, looking for employment," Cantwell said today at Martinac. "That's a challenge that we know very well here in Pierce County particularly because it has one of the highest concentrations of veterans in the country. ...The Washington State Employment Security Department says that there have been 1,700 veterans in our state that have already been hired with the help of this tax credit, so we want to encourage others. It is of utmost importance that this bill pass in September."
On August 2, Cantwell voted to advance the new bipartisan bill that would extend the Returning Heroes and Wounded Heroes Work Opportunity Tax Credits through 2013. These credits allow businesses to obtain a tax credit of up to $9,600 for each qualified veteran they hire to fill job openings, but they are set to expire at the end of the year. The Family and Business Tax Cut Certainty Act passed the U.S. Senate Committee on Finance by a 19-5 vote, and is currently pending consideration by the full Senate.
According to the Washington State Employment Security Department, as of July 24, 1,725 veterans have been hired with the help of the Returning Heroes and Wounded Heroes Work Opportunity Tax Credits so far this year. As of last month, there are 31,000 unemployed veterans in Washington state.
The Returning Heroes and Wounded Heroes Work Opportunity Tax Credits are available to employers when they hire certain types of veterans -- those that have been unemployed or have a service-connected disability.
Employers can earn tax credits of up to $5,600 when they hire unemployed veterans and up to $9,600 when they hire veterans with service-related disabilities. In order to claim the credit, an employer must receive a certification form the Washington Department of Employment Security that the veteran hired meets the criteria for the credit.
In addition to the tax credits for hiring veterans, The Family and Business Tax Cut Certainty Act would also extend key tax credits championed by Cantwell, including deductions for state and local sales taxes, building low-income housing, producing clean energy, and investing in research and development.
The legislation would extend the state and local sales tax deduction for two years, covering 2012 and 2013. Without an extension, Washington residents would no longer be able to deduct the sales taxes they pay from their federal income tax returns. For 2009, the most recent year of published IRS data, nearly 850,000 Washingtonians took advantage of the state and local sales tax deduction and reduced their taxable income by more than $1.8 billion.
Taxpayers in Alaska, Florida, Nevada, Tennessee, Texas, South Dakota, and Wyoming in addition to Washington used this deduction to reduce their taxable incomes by nearly $16 billion in 2009.