February 08, 2021

Cardin, Portman Lead Bipartisan Bill to Make Work Opportunity Tax Credit Permanent

Bill Strengthens Federal Effort to Connect Long-Term Unemployed With Jobs

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senators Ben Cardin (D-Md.) and Rob Portman (R-Ohio), Roy Blunt (R-MO), Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), Bill Cassidy (R-La.), and Bob Menendez (D-N.J.) introduced bipartisan legislation – the Work Opportunity Tax Credit & Jobs Act – to make permanent the Work Opportunity Tax Credit (WOTC), which encourages employers to hire individuals who face significant barriers to employment.  Currently, the WOTC expires on December 31, 2025.  

The WOTC provides an employer tax credit of between $1,200 and $9,600 per employee for hiring and retaining individuals that are part of certain targeted groups representing populations that have a difficult time finding work, or are often out of the labor force altogether. The credit amount is based on the qualified wages paid to those employees within the targeted groups. These targeted groups include: veterans, long-term unemployed, ex-felons, the disabled, summer youth employees, as well as Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, and Supplemental Security Income recipients.

“The Work Opportunity Tax Credit is one of our best tools to promote the employment of those who find it hardest to get a job. But to be effective employers need the certainty a permanent extension provides and tens of thousands of families in Maryland need to know we have their back from now on,” said Senator Cardin. “That’s why we need to invest in this effective program permanently, to ensure those who need the most help are getting it.” 

“Because of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, now more than ever individuals who are in the shadows are struggling to find meaningful employment,” said Senator Portman. “Encouraging employers to hire those who have the most trouble finding work is good policy, and while securing a five-year extension last year was a positive step, it’s critical that we make the Work Opportunity Tax Credit permanent.” 

“Having a job is about more than just bringing home a paycheck - it’s about having pride in your work and confidence in your future,” said Senator Blunt. “Making the Work Opportunity Tax Credit permanent will help get more Americans who have difficulty finding employment and into the workforce.” 

“Hard work doesn’t pay off like it used to, with too many workers trying but struggling to get ahead,” Senator Brown said.  “People can and want to contribute to their communities, and they deserve a fair shot. The WOTC provides that opportunity, and rewards companies for investing in their greatest asset – the American worker.” 

“It can be difficult for Americans to find a job when they’re out of the work force," said Dr. Cassidy. “This Work Opportunity Tax Credit permanency bill ensures those struggling to find work are helped by continuing to incentivize businesses to hire them.”

“The COVID pandemic has hammered our nation’s economy, leaving millions out of work and small businesses struggling to survive,” said Senator Bob Menendez. “As we begin to recover from this crisis and build back an economy that works for all Americans, making the Work Opportunity Tax Credit permanent will provide certainty for employers to hire the long-term unemployed, veterans, and others who’ve been locked out of the workforce. We have both an economic interest and moral obligation to ensure that every individual has a fair shot in our economy to work hard, support a family and contribute to our society. Making this tax credit permanent is the smart and right thing to do.”

“We commend Senator Portman and Senator Cardin for re-introducing a permanent extension of the Work Opportunity Tax Credit (WOTC),” said the National Employment Opportunity Network (NEON). “After 35 years of having helped over 30 million individuals on public assistance programs transition into the workforce, WOTC has more than proven its effectiveness.  WOTC has also shown its cost effectiveness as it saves federal and state governments over $20,000,000,000 a year in expenditures on TANF, SNAF, federal housing and Medicaid. Given this track record, it past time to make WOTC permanent.” 

“The Retail Industry Leaders Association (RILA) is supportive of Senator Portman’s efforts to make WOTC permanent,” said Dave Koenig, Vice President, Tax, Retail Industry Leaders Association. “RILA represents leading retailers, many of whom have utilized WOTC in their hiring practices over the years to include in their workforces those categories of individuals who otherwise face barriers to employment.  RILA was grateful that WOTC was extended through 2025 as part of the COVID relief package that was enacted last December and we look forward to working with Senator Portman to make WOTC permanent as soon as possible.”

###