By Jessica Hussain, Aprio | Vendor Bylines --
The Work Opportunity Tax Credit (WOTC) could mean increased tax savings for you or your business.
WOTC is a federal tax credit available to employers for hiring individuals from certain targeted groups. WOTC is a dollar-for-dollar credit against federal income tax that is claimed on an individual owner’s tax return or C-corporation tax return. This tax credit puts actual dollars back into the pockets of business owners that can be used to invest back into the business, purchase capital expenditures or, in the case of an individual taxpayer, utilize for personal purposes.
Overview of the WOTC
The WOTC is available to employers who hire those in one or more targeted groups:
- IV-A recipients
- Qualified veterans
- Designated community residents
- Vocational rehabilitation referrals
- Summer youth employees
- Food stamp recipients
- SSI recipients
- Long-term family assistance recipients
- Long-term unemployed (new for 2016)
The tax credit can be $1,200 to $9,600 per qualified employee, depending on the target group. The credit limit is per employee, so if you have five employees that qualify under a target group, you would receive the credit amount times five.
The credit depends on the target group, wages paid to an employee and the number of hours worked in the first year of employment.
In order to qualify for the tax credit, you will have to obtain one of the following items on or before a new employee’s first day: 1) certification from a designated agency that confirms the employee falls into one of the targeted groups or 2) an employee’s signature on Pre-Screening Form 8850. This form is due to the Designated Local Agency (DLA) within 28 days of hiring a new employee.
What aspects of WOTC have changed?
Recently, WOTC was extended and expanded by the Protecting Americans from Tax Hikes Act of 2015 (PATH Act). The tax credit can now be retroactively applied to wages paid to an employee who begins work before Jan. 1, 2020, and was expanded to include a new target category, the long-term unemployed.
Under the PATH Act, a qualified long-term unemployment recipient is any individual who is certified as being in a period of unemployment which is not less than 27 consecutive weeks and includes a period in which the individual was receiving unemployment compensation. The addition of long-term unemployed to the targeted groups required the WOTC Prescreening Form 8850 to be updated so that employers could request certification for this new group.
How does the WOTC extension and expansion impact you?
The extension of the WOTC eligibility period to Dec. 31, 2019 gives employers additional opportunities to receive federal tax credits for hiring certain employees.
An employer’s existing hiring practices can be easily updated to include the WOTC screening process. You’ll need your new employee to complete a questionnaire either online or over the phone to determine if they are eligible for a WOTC. A quality payroll company will already have this process in place, which alleviates the burden from the employer.
If you have an existing process in place to determine if a new employee is WOTC eligible, then you will simply need to update the criteria to include the long-term unemployed.
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