The U.S. House of Representatives followed the Senate Thursday in unanimously approving the Veterans Opportunity to Work (VOW) to Hire Heroes Act of 2011, which includes job counseling, training and placement assistance for former members of the military.

The comprehensive measure, which also helps military members leaving the service transition into civilian positions, includes work opportunity credits from $2,400 to $9,600 for employers who hire unemployed veterans and keep them employed for at least a year.

President Barack Obama was expected to sign the bill, HR 674, which amends the tax code to give employers a tax credit of up to $5,600 for hiring veterans (up to $9,600 for hiring veterans with service-connected disabilities) who have been looking for a job for six months or more.

Tax credits

The credits apply for those beginning work for the employer after the enactment date. The work opportunity tax credit (WOTC), which under current law doesn't apply to workers hired after Dec. 31, 2011, will be extended for one year for those hiring qualified veterans.

The bill also featured other tax code revisions, including:

  • Repeals the 3% withholding requirement under Code Sec. 3402(t) on payments due to vendors providing services to federal, state, and local governmental entities.
  • Tightens eligibility for a refundable health-related tax credit under Code Sec. 36B.
  • Effective for levies issued after the enactment date, the Code Sec. 6331(h)(3) continuous 100% tax levy on "specified payments" to vendors for goods and services sold or leased to the federal government is extended to include payments for property, goods, or services sold or leased to the federal government.

Tough transition

Veterans are having a harder time finding work than most Americans. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the national unemployment rate for veterans is 11.7 percent--well above the overall rate of 9.1 percent.

The Connecticut Department of Labor provides specific programs and services for veterans, including apprenticeships and on-the-job training programs, training and manufacturing grants, and employer tax credits.