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IMMEDIATE ATTENTION AND HELP NEEDED

Yesterday, the Senate Finance Committee Task Force on Employment and Community Development issued a notice seeking stakeholder comment on the issues within their jurisdiction – Work Opportunity Tax Credit (WOTC), Indian Employment Credit and Empowerment Zone incentives. The National Employment Opportunity Network (NEON) will draft a formal submission and submit our letters from stakeholders. We have been advised to get letters from employers supporting incentives such as WOTC, Indian Employment Credit and Empowerment Zone.

All letters from stakeholders should be emailed to Employment&Development_Taskforce@finance.senate.gov and need to be in by COB ON MONDAY, JUNE 17TH, 2019.

The letters should be individualized as much as possible and don’t have to be long. Below are a number of options for letters. Everyone should feel free to add and subtract from the drafts and provide any specifics that you may feel that will enhance our case.

The Task Force on Disaster Tax Relief has not put out a similar notice, but for now we are directing comments to the staff of the co-leaders Richard Burr (R-NC) and Michael Bennet (D-CO). More information on the disaster tax relief is listed further below.

All letters should be addressed to:
The Employment and Development Task Force
They should specify the company’s name and where it is located

All letters should be e-mailed to: Employment&Development_Taskforce@finance.senate.gov

DRAFT LETTERS:

  • As an employer or community based group that uses the Work Opportunity Tax Credit, I wanted to share with you the importance of making the program permanent. WOTC encourages us to seek out and hire those who are eligible. We (employers) find that with a little extra effort on our part, those who are eligible become valued members of our (their) team (workforce, staff). WOTC encourages us to focus on individuals whom we might not otherwise consider. This program makes a positive difference and should be made permanent.
  • The past five years that WOTC has been effect have encouraged employers such as us (who we work with) to focus on hiring those who are eligible. The certainty provided from not having to worry as to whether WOTC will be in effect at the end of the year has allowed us to intensify our efforts to hire those eligible and as a result we have increased WOTC hiring significantly. That the program is scheduled to expire at the end of the year is of major concern to us and will have a direct impact on our hiring. WOTC should be made permanent.
  • The modest tax incentive provided through the Work Opportunity Tax Credit is enough to make it worthwhile for us (companies we work with) to focus on hiring those eligible for the program. We have found that while those eligible for WOTC often may not have the type of work place skills or experience that we would normally seek the tax incentive provides us with an enough resources to allow us to focus extra resources on training for entry level workers to make this a win for both us and those we hire. Please make sure that WOTC continues uninterrupted.
  • Employers generally have more than one applicant for each job we have to fill. In most cases we will look to hire the most skilled applicant that applies. The Work Opportunity Tax Credit puts another significant factor into our hiring decision which makes us take a look at an individual whom we might not otherwise consider without the tax incentive. Our experience is that WOTC has worked out well for us because with a little extra effort, those hired become valued employees. They tend to stay longer than other entry level workers and once they learn what we expect of them do an excellent job. WOTC makes this possible for us. Congress needs to make this program permanent.
  • As an employer, I am pleased when I can both make a contribution to my community and make my business more competitive in the market place. The Work Opportunity Tax Credit helps me to do exactly that. It encourages me to focus on hiring those who are on public assistance programs whom, all things being equal, I would be less inclined to hire because they don’t have the work experience I would normally be seeking in an employee. The tax incentive provided provides the extra resources I need to help those eligible to become successful employees. At the same time, I feel that I am doing something to help people transition from dependency on government assistance programs to self-sufficiency. I have seen how those who I hire through WOTC gain self-confidence and a more positive outlook on life. Having that first job helps them to believe in themselves and the prospect that they will be able to able to even better for themselves and their families over time. This is a program that works for everyone and it should be made permanent.
  • For years, my company has participated in the Work Opportunity Tax Credit. We like it because if helps to offset our labor costs while at the same time makes us feel like we are helping those we hire move off of costly public assistance programs and to become contributing members of society. The importance of having a job should never be under estimated. After years of worrying whether WOTC would be extended or expire at the end of the year, the last five years have been a major relief. As most businesses, we appreciated the certainty that a five year extension of WOTC provided. That is why I am concerned that the program may expire at the end of this year. This would be a significant financial hardship for my company, not to mention our ability to focus on hiring those on public assistance programs. This makes little sense to me since the program works for both employers such as myself and for those we hire. While we take a risk, we are rewarded for doing so. This works for everyone and Congress should make sure that it never expires again. The best way to achieve that is to make WOTC permanent. It is my understanding that this task force has the power to recommend that the program be made permanent and I want to encourage you to do so.
  • Traditionally, unemployment on Native American reservations runs two to three times the national average. The Indian Employment Credit helps businesses such as mine to hire people who live and work on tribal lands. This makes a real difference to tribal businesses that often are only marginally profitable. Given the high unemployment and other social challenges facing Native Americans the need for an incentive to encourage hiring in our communities is needed. Making this tax credit permanent would provide us with the certainty we need to be economically viable.
  • Empowerment Zones were established to help encourage economic development and jobs in economically distressed communities. One of the key incentives provided in these communities that helps to insure that those who reside in the designated areas are not passed over and moved out is the Empowerment Zone hiring incentive. The hiring credit provides an enhanced hiring tax credit (over the traditional Work Opportunity Tax Credit) of 20% of the first $ 15,000 in wages for businesses located in the zone who hire people who live in the designated area. This encourages employers who do business in these areas to make an extra effort to hire people who live in those communities. This helps to insure that the people that Empowerment Zones were designed to help rise up out of poverty do so. I want to urge you to make the Empowerment Zone hiring incentive permanent.

DISASTER RELIEF TASK FORCE

While the Disaster Relief Task Force has not put out a similar notice as of now, we would suggest that you send letters to the Task Force leaders:

Richard Burr (R-NC) Robert Sneeden: robert_sneeden@burr.senate.gov

Michael Bennet (D-CO) Charlie Anderson: charlie_anderson@bennet.senate.gov

All letters should be addressed to:
The Disaster Task Force
They should specify the company or stakeholder’s name and where it is located

The members of the task force are from the following states and we should focus on those states as well as other states that have experienced major disasters:

Task Force member states:

  • North Carolina
  • Colorado
  • Georgia
  • Washington

Other states where testimonials from employers for whom the retention credit made a difference:

  • Louisiana – Hurricane
  • Florida – Hurricane
  • South Carolina – Hurricane
  • Mississippi – Hurricane
  • California – fire and earthquake
  • Washington – fire and mudslides
  • Midwest states for floods

Again, the letters should be individualized as much as possible and don’t have to be long. Below are a number of options for letters. Everyone should feel free to add and subtract from the drafts and provide any specifics that you may feel that will enhance our case.

DRAFT LETTERS:

  • When (name of disaster) hit my community, Congress’ enactment of a retention tax credit made a difference in my decision to keep workers on my payroll. This worked for me because I was able to keep my work force in tack and it worked for my employees because they continued to receive a pay check. After seeing how long it has taken for Congress to enact tax relief for the natural disasters that occurred in 2018, I want to urge you to enact a permanent hiring retention credit when disasters occur.
  • My business is located in (city and state) that was hit by a hurricane (fire) (floods) last year. Our community suffered considerable human and economic loses as a result. It is my understanding that in the past when such disasters have occurred, Congress has recognized the need to help employers impacted by such natural disasters who kept workers on their payroll. It’s been nearly a year since our community suffered from flooding (fires) and we have yet to receive the help others have received in the past. Providing a permanent retention tax incentive would not only help my business, but it would more importantly provide an economic boost to our devastated community. We shouldn’t have to wait months for relief. A disaster is an emergency which requires emergency relief not relief that may or may not come months later. Congress needs to make such relief permanent and automatic.
  • In (year) (city, state) suffered through a major hurricane (fire, flood) and the federal government was there for us with both tax relief and federal dollars that made a major difference in our ability to recover both psychologically and fiscally. Having a retention tax credit helped me to provide a paycheck for my employees which made a difference in their lives and helped to put money into our devastated community. People who face such disasters need to feel that their government is there to help them get through the devastation. They don’t want to hear that it takes time for Washington to respond to their suffering. If the federal government declares an area to have been devastated because of a natural or man-made disaster, then the needed economic relief should be automatic and not have to wait for Congress to act. That is why I want to urge you to make disaster tax relief including a retention tax credit automatic and permanent.
  • I live in a community that has experienced or is subject to natural disasters. Such events are devastating both psychologically and economically to the impacted communities. Knowing with certainty that the federal government will provide the resources to get through the devastating days and months after the event provides needed solace to those who are suffering. Not knowing when and if relief is coming only adds to the anxiety people and businesses are going through. There is nothing worse than experiencing the uncertainty of whether you can depend upon the government to help. In recent years, we have seen more and more major catastrophic events and it’s time that the federal government changes its approach to these events and enacts permanent automatic tax relief which would include a retention hiring credit. Knowing that you don’t have to wait for Congress to act will provide at least some relief from the massive uncertainties people face during once they have survived a natural disaster. Making such tax relief automatic will make a real difference to those who desperately need help.

Thank you for your help with this matter. Please feel free to contact us at 843-519-0808 or sscott@synergipartners.com with any questions.

Best Regards,

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