Bill gives tax credits for employers who hire veterans


January 29, 2015
By Heather J. Carlson

Private employers who hire military veterans would be eligible for a new tax credit under a measure backed by a Rochester lawmaker.

Employers who hire veterans would get a one-year tax credit equal to 10 percent of the veterans’ wages, according to the bill sponsored by Republican Sen. Carla Nelson. The maximum tax credit allowed would be $3,000 for a disabled veteran, $1,500 for an unemployed veteran and $500 for veterans who served in a designated combat zone following Sept. 11, 2001.

“It was not that long ago that we recall those devastating headlines that said veterans were filling up our unemployment ranks, and we cannot stand for that as Minnesotans,” Nelson told members of the Senate Tax Reform Division Committee on Wednesday.

The committee also heard testimony on a slightly different veteran tax credit bill sponsored by Sen. Charles Wiger, DFL-Maplewood.

Several veterans and veteran groups testified in support of the bills. Among them was Dennis Davis, who served 16 years in the military and was deployed twice to support U.S. operations in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Davis said the most recent data indicates that 8.8 percent of post-Sept. 11 veterans in Minnesota are unemployed. That’s roughly three times the state’s overall unemployment rate. He said that all too often, veterans struggle to find a job after leaving the military. It’s also worth keeping in mind that an estimated 22 veterans a day commit suicide in the United States, he said.

“This tax credit not only can help them find work, but this may literally save people’s lives because it’s going to continue them on a path, ease that transition back into the private sector where they can find meaningful work again,” Davis said.

A Minnesota Department of Revenue analysis estimates that Nelson’s bill would cost the state nearly $37 million over the next two-year budget cycle.

The idea of a tax credit for employers who hire veterans was warmly received by the Senate committee. Members ultimately agreed to consider the measure for possible inclusion in a larger tax bill.

Committee Chairwoman Ann Rest, DFL-New Hope, said it’s horrifying to think that veterans who are deployed and serving their country are worrying about being able to find a job when they get back.

“That’s wrong. That should not happen,” she said.

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