Schumer: Tax credits work to hire veterans

Speaking Monday at a Menands business that has hired dozens of veterans in recent years, U.S. Sen. C

Speaking Monday at a Menands business that has hired dozens of veterans in recent years, U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer called for renewal of a federal tax credit for hiring unemployed veterans.

The Returning Heroes and Wounded Warriors Tax Credit was enacted in November 2011 and provides tax credits to businesses that hire unemployed military veterans. According to a news release, businesses that hire veterans who have been looking for work for at least four weeks, but less than six months, are eligible for a tax credit of up to $2,400 per veteran hired. Hiring a veteran who has been looking for a job for six months or longer can earn a business a tax credit of up to $5,600, or $9,600 if the vet has a service-connected disability.

The tax credit is due to expire at the end of this year, but a Senate tax extenders package will be considered in September and Schumer says that he believes The Returning Heroes and Wounded Warriors Tax Credit should be included in it.

Schumer, D-N.Y., spoke about the expiring tax credits in Menands at Focused Technologies, a business that employs 104 people, 11 of whom are veterans. Six of those veterans were hired by Focused Technologies in the last year, earning the firm tax credits worth $27,000.

Schumer emphasized that he believes the tax credits are both sensible and justified.

“This vital tax credit is a proven success in helping businesses hire more veterans, and we cannot allow such a powerful antidote to the economic recession come to an end. The Returning Heroes and Wounded Warrior Tax Credit is set to expire at year’s end, which would be a devastating blow to the efforts of companies like Focused Technologies that want to get unemployed veterans in the Capital Region back to work,” said Schumer.

“Renewing the veterans’ tax credit isn’t just the smart thing to do for companies in the Capital Region and across the country, it’s the right thing to do to honor the sacrifices made by our heroes in uniform. Our veterans have spent months and even years of their lives protecting our freedom, and I am going to fight to renew this tax break so that veterans don’t spend the same amount of time in the unemployment line.”

Focused Technologies CEO Chuck Tobin led Schumer and several other officials on a tour of the company, including Albany County Executive Dan McCoy, himself an Iraq War veteran; Peter Potter, director of public relations for the Albany Stratton VA Medical Center; Bob Becker of the Marine Corps League; Lawrence Wiest of the Tri-County Council of Vietnam Veterans; and Joe Pollicino, acting director of the Albany County Veterans Service Agency and president of the Tri-County Council of Vietnam Veterans.

Tobin told Schumer that he intends to continue hiring veterans, and that the tax credits affected his hiring decisions.

Tobin, flanked by his 11 veteran employees, said, “Over the life of our business, we’ve hired over 50 veterans. Some veterans have stayed on to become managers … others have moved on and used this opportunity as a stepping stone to other employment. While this tax credit isn’t the reason we hire veterans, it certainly helps businesses like us when we’re looking to grow and become bigger.”

According to the state Department of Labor’s most recent data from 2010, the Capital Region has 2,602 unemployed veterans and the state as a whole has 16,846.

Nationally, the unemployment rate among veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan has risen to 12.1 percent from 10.6 percent last year.

McCoy gestured towards the veterans and said, “Being a veteran myself, and coming back from being overseas, it’s important when I see veterans behind me, to my left and right, and what Chuck’s doing here at Focused Technologies means a lot. Over 10,000 veterans come off of active duty and they end up in the State of New York … and with the downsize in the military over the next couple of years, that’s going to be over a million veterans coming back. We train them to go to war; we need to train them to find jobs when they’re done.”

Schumer flew to Washington later Monday to discuss which of the many expiring tax credits should be renewed. He said that many tax credits were coming up for consideration, and that the Returning Heroes and Wounded Warriors Tax Credit is “very popular, obviously, because it’s been successful.”

“I would say that if we can’t put this in the tax credit expiration, we shouldn’t pass them even though there are a lot of other good things in there too.”

Categories: Schenectady County

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