The measure already has passed the Senate 94-1, and will go next to the White House for President Barack Obama’s signature. Obama congratulated Democrats and Republicans for supporting the tax credits, which advocates say are necessary to help reduce veterans’ unemployment.
“No veteran who fought for our country should have to fight for a job when they come home,” Obama said in a statement. “That’s why I proposed these tax credits back in August, and I look forward to signing them into law.”
Obama was Australia en route to Bali for an East Asia Summit.
The tax credits are part of the “American Jobs Act” legislation that Obama sent to Congress in September. With support from both parties, the tax measure and some other veteran-oriented provisions were pulled from the larger jobs act and incorporated into a bill to eliminate a 3 percent withholding tax on government contractors.
The bill includes two tax credits. Under the “Returning Heroes” tax credit, employers would get a maximum tax break of $5,600 per veteran, while the maximum under the “Wounded Warrior” credit is $9,600 per veteran. The exact amount is linked to how long the veteran has been unemployed and whether he or she has a service connected disability.
Eric Shinseki, Secretary of the Department of Veterans Affairs, said the bill’s passage “will put more veterans back to work by encouraging businesses to hire them, and send a message that a grateful nation honors their service and sacrifice and wants to welcome them all the way home.”
Other provisions of the bill will extend up to a year of education and training to veterans of earlier eras; improve transition assistance planning to separating troops; enable troops nearing the end of their active duty time to begin applying for federal jobs; and require the Labor Department to find ways to better translate military skills and jobs into civilian employment; and make it easier for veterans to acquire certificates or licenses needed in the civilian world.
Paul Rieckhoff, founder and executive director of the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America, said the legislation includes provisions that IAVA has been pushing for since the beginning of the year.
“And with veteran unemployment rising, the timing [of passage] couldn’t be more critical,” he said in a statement.
Bureau of Labor Statistics figures put veteran unemployment last month at more than 12 percent. That’s more than three percentage points higher than the civilian employment rate.