WV offers tax incentives to hire veterans - Beckley, Bluefield & Lewisburg News, Weather, Sports

WV offers tax incentives to hire veterans

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Ken Schuckers Ken Schuckers

Ken Schuckers is a director at Dixon Hughes Goodman LLP, Morgantown. He is an Army and Army Reserves veteran.

Our brothers and sisters in arms are coming home from many years of sacrifice in combat and support services from around the world. Our military veterans deserve the support of our communities, businesses and government to help them return to a comforting and supportive civilian life. These veterans want to be strong contributors to the West Virginia economy. It is important for West Virginia businesses to take strategic efforts in their hiring practices and focus on our veterans.  

Many of our Armed Forces veterans have unique technical skills that will benefit our business community.  Others may need additional training that can be provided by our education system.  

There are many federal and state tax incentives for businesses that hire veterans. The federal government offers an annual tax credit of up to $6,000 for hiring a qualified veteran. In situations where the qualified veteran is entitled to compensation for a service-connected disability, and was hired within a year of discharge from active duty, an employer may receive a $12,000 tax credit. An employer may also be eligible for a tax credit of $24,000 if the veteran has had periods of unemployment exceeding six months within the first year after discharge from active duty. 

Unfortunately, as a business owner, the rules for taking advantage of these federal incentives are complicated and require a significant amount of paperwork and attention to deadlines. To qualify for these various incentives, an employer must file an application with the designated local employment agency on or before the day that the veteran begins work, or no later than 28 days after the veteran begins work for the employer. There are no exceptions to this rule. In addition, this federal tax incentive is set to expire on Dec. 31, 2013. Business owners should contact their representatives and senators, requesting that they make significant efforts to extend this important incentive for businesses.

West Virginia became a leader in supporting our veterans when the state enacted the Military Incentive Program Act of 1991. This law allows businesses registered in the state to obtain an income tax credit of 30 percent of the first $5,000 of paid wages to disadvantaged veterans, a percentage of disability multiplied by the first $5,000 paid to a disabled veteran, or 25  percent of the first $5,000 paid to a National Guard or Reserve veteran. Generally, the veteran must be employed for one year before the business can utilize the tax credit.

West Virginia also offers a tax incentive to businesses that are creating jobs. While it is not specifically focused on veterans, most veterans hired will meet the employee qualifications for this state tax benefit. A small business generally needs to hire at least 10 employees, and a more established business making investments and expansions in West Virginia will need to hire at least 20 employees over a three-year period.

While businesses should be aware of the federal and state tax benefits of hiring our veterans, there are also grassroots organizations that can assist our veterans in their transition from military to civilian life.  These organizations can help employers find eager and qualified veterans, and their family members, that are looking to contribute to our economy by filling open jobs.  

Operation Welcome Home in Morgantown is a wonderful example of helping businesses and veterans connect.  Operation Welcome Home is a not-for-profit partnered with PACE Enterprises, also a not-for-profit. Jamie Summerlin is the President of Operation Welcome Home and Richard "Brett" Simpson is program manager. Both men are veterans from the Marine Corps and Army, respectively. Their mission is to help transition our veterans and their families back into our community and workforce.  Pace Enterprises assists citizens with disabilities connect with our business community.

Another organization making a difference is Workforce West Virginia, which also helps veterans and their families transition to the workforce. They have offices in Beckley, Bridgeport, Charleston, Huntington, Martinsburg, Parkersburg and Wheeling, with many other satellite offices elsewhere in West Virginia.

Employers should look to organizations such as Operation Welcome Home, Pace Enterprises and Workforce West Virginia to find future employees. There are benefits for both the employee and employer when a veteran or their family member gets hired. These families have sacrificed so much to serve our nation. The West Virginia business community should make every effort to honor our veterans and their families by welcoming them back home with a good job.