What is WOTC



  • Extends the Work Opportunity Tax Credit for 5 years through December 31, 2025
  • Extends the Empowerment Zone hiring tax incentive for 5 years though December 31, 2025
  • Extends the Indian Employment Credit for one year through December 31, 2021
  • Provides $23,318,000 for the Department of Labor and the State Workforce Agencies (SWAs) to administer WOTC, reduce processing backlogs, to provide technical assistance to the SWAs and to modernize processing. This is the second year of enhance WOTC administration funding
  • Extends the Disaster Relief hiring incentive from January 1, 2020 through February 20, 2021 (sixty days after date of enactment which was on December 22, 2020). 
    • Extends and improves the COVID-19 Employee Retention Tax Credit from January 1, 2021 through June 30, 2021:
    • Increases the credit from 50% to 70%;

    • Expands eligibility by reducing the decline in receipts eligibility criteria from the 2020 requirement of 50% to only 20% loss in year over year revenues and provides a safe harbor which would allow employers to use prior quarter gross receipts to determine eligibility;

    • Increases the limit on per-employee creditable wages from $10,000 per year to $10,000 for each quarter;

    • Increases the 100-employee delineation for determining the relevant qualified wage base to employers with 500 or fewer employees;

    • Allows Government run colleges, universities, as well as government run entities providing medical or hospital care to qualify;

    • Allows employers who were not in existence for all or part of 2019 to now qualify.

      • Modifications to the Employee Retention Tax Credit that are retroactive to date of enactment of the CARES ACT – March 27, 2020:
        • Employers who received a Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loan may qualify for the ERTC for wages that are were not paid for with a forgiven PPP loan;

        • Clarifies the determination of gross receipts for not-for-profits;

        • Clarifies that group health plan expenses can be considered qualified wages even when no other wages are paid an employee




    The CARES Act includes an Employee Retention Tax Credit (ERTC) which would:


    • Provide a fully refundable tax credit of 50% of $10,000 in qualified wages and the allocable portion of health insurance to the qualified wages paid such employee who remains on an employer's payroll:
    • For employers with up to 100 employees any wages and the allocable portion of healthcare qualify;
    • For employers with more than 100 employees only those wages and the allocable portion of healthcare that exceeds the value of the work and/or time worked qualify.
    • Defines eligible employers as any employer who's business during a calendar quarter:
    • Fully or partially was suspended during the calendar quarter due to an order from a governmental authority limiting commerce, travel, or group meetings; or
    • Beginning with the first calendar quarter after December 31, 2019 an employer had gross receipts that were 50% less for the same calendar quarter then in the previous year;and
    • Ending with the calendar quarter following the first calendar quarter after gross receipts are 80% greater then the same calendar quarter in the prior year. 
    • Makes both for-profit and not-for-profit employers eligible, but not state or local governments.
    • Employers who receive a loan under the Paycheck Protection Program are not eligible for the employee retention tax credit. 





    The HEROES Act would make significant changes to the Employee Retention Tax Credit including:

    • Increasing qualified wages to $15,000 per quarter for up to three quarters (maximum credible wages would be $45,000) up from the current $10,000;
    • Increasing the percent of the credit to 80% from the current 50% (this would make the maximum credit $12,000 per quarter or $36,000 over three quarters;
    • Codifying that the proportional amount of health care insurance paid for an employee by the employer during the period that the business was closed, operating at a reduced capacity, or who's income is between 50% and 90% of what it was during the same quarter of the precious year is eligible for the ERTC regardless of whether the employee was paid wages;
    • Defining a large employer as having 1,500 full time equivalent employees as opposed to the HEROES Act which sets the threshold at 100 employees;
    • Modifying the revenue loss test for businesses not subject to a government shutdown order by phasing out the credit between a 50% and 90% loss of gross receipts. Currently there is no phase out – eligibility ends at the point that gross receipts exceed 50% for the same calendar quarter during the previous year;                                                   
    • Qualified wages would include tips deemed to be paid by the employer;
    • Allowing employers to qualify for both a Payroll Protection Program loan and the Employee Retention Credit, but not for the same wages.  Currently, employers cannot qualify for both.



    On December 20, 2019, President Trump signed H.R. 1865 which funds domestic spending for FY 2020. A tax title was added which would extend WOTC, the hiring incentive for Empowerment Zones and the Indian Employment Credit through December 31, 2020. Also included in the package is the disaster tax relief hiring incentive. The domestic spending title on includes a $2,500,000 increase in WOTC funding for FY 2020 to help the state workforce agencies to modernize WOTC processing and clean up existing processing backlogs. This is the first increase in administrative funding in over twenty years

    H.R. 1865 passed the House on December 17, 2019, by a vote of 297 to 120 and the Senate on December 19, 2019, by a vote of 71 to 23. Adding the tax title was in question up till the last minute and it was only added on December 16. We have been told that the active grassroots efforts of WOTC supporters played a significant part in persuading Congress to add a tax title.

    The tax title to H.R. 1865 entitled the "Tax Payer Certainty and Disaster Relief Act of 2019" includes the following provisions:
    > An extension of WOTC through 2020
    > An extension from January 1, 2018 through December December 31, 2020 of:
    - The Empowerment Zone hiring incentive and
    - The Indian Employment Credit
    > A Disaster Tax Relief retention credit for those who remained on an employer's payroll in an area which was designated as a federally "qualified disaster zone" between January 1, 2018 and sixty days after enactment which occurred on December 20, 2019. Any disaster which occurs after February 18, 2020 would not qualify, and
    > The spending provisions of H.R. 1865, increases WOTC funding by $2,500,000 from an FY 2019 funding level of $19,800,000 to $21,423,000 for FY 2020


    During the Week of June 16, 2019, NEON filed its comments to the Senate Finance Committee's tax extender's Task Force on Employment and Community Development. NEON testified before the Task Force and emphasized WOTC's public assistance savings, employer acceptance of the program, the flexibility of the WOTC platform, program growth as a result of the five-year PATH Act extension, and the need for a seamless permanent extension. We also discussed program improvements with an emphasis on the positive impact of lifting the age ceiling on WOTC eligibility for SNAP recipients. In addition, we referenced bills that have been introduced that would make eligible Transitional Foster Care Youth, S. 1651 and those on Social Security Disability Insurance, S. 255.

    The Task Force was quite supportive of WOTC. We were asked about our savings estimates and why we don't get credit for them. We referenced our meeting between Dr. Cappelli and the head of the Joint Committee on Taxation during which we were told that they believe the program more than pays for itself. However, the Joint Committee recommended we speak with the Congressional Budget Office since the Joint Committee on Taxation only estimates the impact on revenues of changes to the tax law, and not the impact on spending programs. We explained that CBO can only estimate total annual program costs, but not how a program like WOTC impacts those costs.


    NEON was instrumental in securing a $2M increase in WOTC administrative funding in the draft Senate Labor HHS Bill that was released on September 18th, 2019. NEON will work with the conferees to secure the House level of funding for WOTC.


    On Thursday, June 20, 2019, the House Ways and Means Committee Reported H.R. 3301, The Tax Payer Certainty and Disaster Relief Act of 2019 which would:

    Seamlessly extend WOTC through 2020, and retroactively extends through 2020 the Indian Employment Credit and Empowerment Zone hiring and provide Disaster Tax Relief which would include an employee retention credit for all 2018 and 2019 federally declared disaster areas through 60 days after the date of enactment.

    During the Committee's consideration of H.R. 3301, Congressmen/woman Bill Pascrell (D-NJ), Danny Davis (D-IL), Terri Sewell (D-AL), Dwight Evans (D-PA), and Steven Horsford (D-NV) all spoke in support of WOTC.


    NEON was also instrumental in securing a $2.5M increase in WOTC administrative funding in the Labor HHS portion of the House-passed Defense, the State Department, Energy and Water Development, and Labor, HHS spending bills, H.R. 2740. This would bring total administrative dollars for processing WOTC claims up to $22.3 M, a 12.6% increase which is more than the across the board 10% increase given to DOL. We are working with the Senate Labor HHS Subcommittee to secure a similar increase in the Senate bill.

    Tax for 2017, 2018 and Disaster Relief Retention Credit:

    Congress continues to work on moving a tax extenders package for provisions that expired in 2017 and 2018 (Indian Employment Credit and Empowerment Zones) as well as Disaster Tax Relief, including a retention credit for employers located in communities that have been impacted by 2018 hurricanes, wildfires, and mudslides.


    WOTC Permanency Bills:

    On April 2nd, 2019, Senators Rob Portman (R-OH) and Ben Cardin (D-MD) along with Senators Roy Blunt (R-MO), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Bill Cassidy (R-LA) and Bob Menendez (D-NJ) introduced "The Work Opportunity and Jobs Act", S.978, which would make WOTC permanent. This was followed on April 10th, 2019, by Congressman Mike Thompson (D-CA) and Tom Reed (R-NY), along with Congressman Bill Pascrell (D-NJ), Tom Rice (R-SC) and Tom Suozzi (D-NY), introducing H.R. 2213, which would also make WOTC permanent. The Senate and House Bills and Press Releases from when the bills were introduced can be found below:

    H.R. 2213

    H.R. 2213 Press Release

    S. 978

    S. 978 Press Release


    Employment and Community Development Task Force Report:

    The Finance Committee released its Tax Extenders Employment and Community Development Task Force Report in August 2019 which includes a discussion on WOTC, the Indian Employment Tax Credit and Empowerment Zones, all of which provide hiring tax incentives.

    The five provisions they looked at were:


    New Markets Credit

    Empowerment Zones

    Indian Employment Credit

    Mine Rescue Team Training Tax Credit

    American Samoa Economic Development Credit

    The central recommendation of the Task Force for the provisions they considered is that "Tax policy should be enacted with long-term horizons if not on a permanent basis."

    They also recommended some prospective changes to the Indian Employment Credit that would "measure the credit using a moving average of qualified wages and health insurance costs from a set number of preceding years." This is designed to make the credit fulfill its mission of being an incremental hiring incentive.

    Regarding WOTC, the report points out a number of very positive comments that they received from stakeholders:

    Sixty-five public comments were submitted on WOTC with all positive comments and supported a permanent extension.

    The report cited three of the main program expansion recommendation that NEON made during the presentation to the Task Force:

    >WOTC should be made permanent.

    >The current age ceiling on SNAP eligibility of 40 should be lifted/eliminated.

    >A new category should be added for Opportunity Zones that would provide an enhanced tax credit for those who live and work in Opportunity Zones.

    Two Senators Submitted Comments:

    Bob Casey (D-PA) in support of his bill to expand WOTC to include SSI Disability recipients.

    Dick Durbin (D-IL) in support of his bill to expand WOTC to include youth who have dropped out of school

    While no negative comments were submitted regarding WOTC, there were comments submitted that called for the repeal of the Indian Employment Credit, Empowerment Zones, and New Markets.

    The Task Force report should be viewed as a positive and will support the contention that there should be a permanent if not a multi-year extension of the program.

    To view the entire report, click here 

    Entities Supporting WOTC:

    U.S. Chamber of Commerce

    Retail Industry Leaders Association

    Buffalo Wild Wings

    Synergi Partners

    Associated General Contractors of America

    American Staffing Association

    Citizens United for Rehabilitation of Errants (CURE)

    International Colorado-CURE

    Feeding America

    Goodwill Industries International, Inc.


    Paralyzed Veterans of America

    Partners for Rural America

    Legal Action Center

    National Grocers Association

    National HIRE Network

    National Employment Opportunity Network

    National Puerto Rican Chamber of Commerce

    National Restaurant Association

    Retail Industry Leaders Association

    Society for Human Resource Management 


    H.R. 2213, To Amend the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 to Make WOTC Permanent

    • Mike Thompson (D-CA)
    • Tom Reed (R-NY)
    • Bill Pascrell Jr (D-NJ)
    • Tom Rice (R-SC)
    • Thomas Suozzi (D-NY)
    • Carol Miller (R-WV)
    • Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA)
    • Elissa Slotkin (D-MY)
    • Michael Waltz (R-FL)
    • Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA)
    • Sanford Bishop Jr (D-GA)
    • Jefferson Van Drew (D-NJ)
    • Antonio Delgado (D-NY)
    • Fred Upton (R-MI)
    • Brian Higgins (D-NY)
    • Judy Chu (D-CA)
    • Anthony Brindisi (D-NY)
    • Terri Sewell (D-AL)
    • John Katko (R-NY)
    • Henry Cuellar (D-TX)
    • Don Bacon (R-NE)
    • Mike Bost (R-IL)
    • Kenny Marchant (R-TX)
    • Ed Case (D-HI)
    • Josh Harder (D-CA)
    • Raja Krishnamoorthi (D-IL)
    • Elaine Luria (D-VA)
    • Daniel Kildee (D-MI)
    • Gilbert Ray Cisneros Jr (D-CA)
    • Daniel Lipinski (D-IL)
    • Kathleen Rice (D-NY)
    • Ruben Gallego (D-AZ)
    • Alcee Hastings (D-FL)
    • Michael Turner (R-OH)
    • Jimmy Panetta (D-CA)
    • Bobby Rush (D-IL)
    • Colin Allred (D-TX)
    • Andy Kim (D-NJ)
    • Darin LaHood (R-IL)
    • Harley Rouda (D-CA)
    • Abby Finkenauer (D-IA)
    • Joseph Morelle (D-NY)
    • Robin Kelly (D-IL)
    • Danny Davis (D-IL)
    • Ann Kirpatrick (D-AZ)
    • Jenniffer Gonzalez-Colon (R-PR)
    • Tom Cole (R-OK)
    • John Rutherford (R-FL)
    • Derek Kilmer (D-WA)
    • Alan Lowenthal (D-CA)
    • Steven Horsford (D-NV)
    • Rodney Davis (R-IL)
    • Earl Blumenauer (D-OR)


    S. 978, Work Opportunity Tax Credit and Jobs Act

    • Rob Portman (R-OH)
    • Benjamin Cardin (D-MD)
    • Roy Blunt (R-MO)
    • Sherrod Brown (D-OH)
    • Bill Cassidy (R-LA)
    • Robert Menendez (D-NJ)
    • Margaret Wood Hassan (D-NH)
    • Martha McSally (R-AZ)
    • Catherine Cortez Masto (D-NV)
    • Debbie Stabenow (D-MI)