Laws, Tax Credits Aim to Make Life Better for Veterans Returning to Civilian Employment

This Memorial Day is not only an opportunity to recognize the valor and sacrifice of soldiers who gave their lives in defense of this country, but also to renew our efforts to make sure veterans get employment when they return and that they are treated fairly on the job. Here’s a rundown of what our laws require vis-a-vis returning veterans.

Ban on Discrimination: Employers are prohibited under the Uniform Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act from discriminating in employment against service members upon their return from a period of military service. The laws includes protections for National Guard and reserve call-ups. The law is administered by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Veterans’ Employment and Training Service (VETS).

Affirmative Action: The Vietnam Era Veterans Readjustment Assistance Act–or VEVRAA-federal contractors must take affirmative action to hire and promote qualified veterans, including disabled veterans. Despite the law’s name, its protections are not limited to Vietnam Era veterans. They also encompass disabled veterans and veterans who serve in military campaigns for which a campaign badge has been authorized by the Department of Defense. This statute is enforced by DOL’s Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs.

Neither of these laws, however, can compel an employer to hire a veteran. The veterans’ unemployment rate remains stubbornly high. To make a dent in that problem, the federal government provides a Work Opportunity Tax Credit to give employers a financial incentive to hire veterans. The credit, which was enacted in 2011, has been extended to the end of 2013.

This tax credit is for hiring the following eligible veterans:

• Short-term Unemployed: A new credit of 40% of the first $6,000 of wages (up to $2,400) for employers who hire veterans who have been in receipt of unemployment compensation for at least 4 weeks.

• Long-term Unemployed: A new credit of 40% of the first $14,000 of wages (up to $5,600) for employers who hire veterans who have been in receipt of unemployment compensation for longer than 6 months.Wounded Warrior Tax Credit

• Veterans with Services-Connected Disabilities: Maintains the existing Work Opportunity Tax Credit for veterans with service-connected disabilities hired within one year of being discharged from the military. The credit is 40% of the first $12,000 of wages (up to $4,800).

• Long-Term Unemployed Veterans with Services-Connected Disabilities: A new credit of 40% of the first $24,000 of wages (up to $9,600) for firms that hire veterans with service-connected disabilities who have been in receipt of unemployment compensation for longer than 6 months.The credit can be as high as $9,600 per veteran for for-profit employers or up to $6,240 for tax-exempt organizations.

Dont let these obligations and opportunities go to waste. Treat veterans the right way–and hire more of them–and they and the nation will benefit.

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