A new law gives companies up to a $4,500 tax credit for each recent veteran they hire. Calling it the “right thing to do”, Governor Jack Markell signed into law the Veterans’ Opportunity Tax Credit (House Bill 275) Tuesday.
“This an obligation. This is a responsibility we have [to assist veterans],” said Gov. Markell.
The tax credit, based on a similar credit offered in Illinois, is offered in annual installments of $1,500. It can be taken the year the veteran is hired and two years after that, making the maximum credit possible $4,500 for each veteran hired. The fiscal note attached to the legislation estimates the credit will cost the state $60,000 over the next two fiscal years.
The credit is limited to the hiring of recent combat veterans who have served in hostile areas, such as Afghanistan and Iraq. To qualify for the credit, the veterans must have served for 30 continuous days or 60 non-continuous days in those places. The time requirement is waived for service members who took part in combat or were wounded in the line of duty. Also, the credit can not be taken if the veteran hired is being counted toward another credit or hiring incentive offered by the state.
(See previous DFM News coverage here)
Gov. Markell, Rep. Earl Jaques and others discuss the Veterans’ Opportunity Tax Credit and additional initiatives to hire veterans./h3>
Gov. Markell, Rep. Earl Jaques and others discuss the Veterans’ Opportunity Tax Credit and additional initiatives to hire veterans.
State Rep. Earl Jaques (D-Glasgow), primary sponsor of the legislation, said the 146th General Assembly was very aggressive in tackling issues involving veterans and the military, but calls the Veterans’ Opportunity Tax Credit the “pinnacle” of the 16 laws passed in the session related to veterans and current service members.
“After World War II, when our fathers and mothers came back, it started an economic boom because people hired those veterans,” said Rep. Jaques. “That’s what were trying to start here, another economic boom, by having [current veterans] hired.”
The unemployment rate among veterans has been higher than the national average in recent years. In January 2012, the unemployment rate among recently returning vets was at 9.1 percent compared to the 8.3 percent national average. In January 2011, 15.2 percent of recently returning veterans were looking for work.
Gov. Markell signed the Veterans Opportunity Tax Credit at JP Morgan Chase’s Wilmington offices to highlight that company’s “100,000 Jobs Mission” launched in March 2011. Through that initiative, JP Morgan Chase and 59 other companies have committed to hiring 100,000 veterans by 2020. As of the end of June, just over 18,000 had been hired, including 95 in Delaware. Navy veteran Jeremy Schladweiler, who served from 1996 to 2003 including a stint in Afghanistan, is among those who have found work at JP Morgan Chase. Now an operations analyst with the company, Schladweiler appreciates the security his job brings as he watches friends preparing to leave the military worry about their futures.
“One of my friends who is the Special Forces community says he has no idea how he’ll translate driving a boat in rivers that insert SEALS [into combat] to working outside [the military] other than doing security, said Schladweiler. “I’ve been trying to talk to him and tell him that you have a plethora of skills and everyone who has served in the military is certifiably trainable.”
Major General Francis D. Vavala, Adjutant General of the Delaware National Guard, hopes initiatives like the Veterans’ Opportunity Tax Credit and the “100,000 Jobs Mission” make employers more aware of the quality of employees they can get by hiring a veteran.
“They bring some unique skill sets to the marketplace. Not only that, these people are drug-free. These are people who are used to structure, and discipline and order. There are some many positives to military service that can be capitalized on [by employers],” said Maj. General Vavala. “People need to know that there are veterans coming back without jobs and we need to do something to employ these folks who’ve done so much for us.”
“They’re technologically savvy and they’ve already proved they can work under any conditions. That’s the kind of person you want,” said Jaques. “I hope not only our big employers, but I hope our small businesses take advantage of hiring a veteran. They will not be sorry.”