july 8, 2011

President, Members of Congress Consider Tax Credit for Hiring Veterans

Government officials look to give incentives to employers to hire veterans

WASHINGTON, DC - Unemployment has reached a tipping point for all Americans, as jobless claims rose to 9.2% in the month of June. But as the rest of the country continues to struggle, veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan are facing jobless rates of catastrophic proportions, with figures as high as 27% for veterans between 20-24 years old.

These dire circumstances have led many to feel that hiring veterans must be a priority for this country. Such sentiments were on full display during President Obama’s recent “Twitter Town Hall”, where he directly responded to questions that ordinary citizens posted on the social media site. One question that the president fielded asked his opinion about giving tax breaks to companies that hire veterans who were honorably discharged from the military. Obama surprised many by noting that such ideas were already being discussed in the White House.

“We've got all these young people coming back from Iraq and Afghanistan [who] have made incredible sacrifices [and] have taken on incredible responsibilities,” the president said. “You see some 23-year-old who's leading a platoon in hugely dangerous circumstances, making decisions [and] operating complex technologies. These are folks who can perform. But unfortunately, what we're seeing is a lot of these young veterans have a higher unemployment rate than people who didn't serve. And that makes no sense.”

The president said one idea under discussion is to combine a tax credit for companies that hire veterans with a campaign to get private companies to “do the right thing” and hire additional veterans.

"And one of the things that we've done is internally, in the federal government, we have made a huge emphasis on ramping up our outreach to veterans and hiring of veterans, and this has been a top priority of mine. The notion that these folks who are sacrificing for our freedom and our security end up coming home and not being able to find a job, I think, is unacceptable.”

President Obama is not the only elected official to make headlines this week about hiring veterans. Rep. Jeff Miller, a Florida congressman and Chairman of the House Committee on Veterans' Affairs since January, introduced the Veteran Opportunity to Work Act of 2011, which incorporates education, tax credits, training and protections, and eliminates roadblocks in the system to help the nearly one million jobless veterans find work.

"When I became chairman, I pledged to take a comprehensive approach to reducing veterans' unemployment. I firmly believe that approach must include incentives for small businesses to invest in hiring veterans," Miller said. "This unique approach not only employs veterans, but also incentivizes small businesses to purchase capital equipment creating even more jobs for all Americans."

Miller's proposed tax credit legislation would provide small businesses, including veteran-owned businesses, the option to grow their companies while also hiring a jobless veteran.

“Coupled with broader efforts to keep taxes and regulations on small businesses to a minimum, this credit will incentivize job creators and provide our veterans with meaningful employment," said Miller.