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Work Opportunity Tax Credit Eligibility: What are the Rules?

Work Opportunity Tax Credit Eligibility: What are the Rules?

WOTC Eligibility

Are you a business owner thinking about hiring? Employers can qualify for a tax credit known as the Work Opportunity Tax Credit (WOTC) that’s worth as much as $2,400 for each eligible employee, but can be worth more (and in some cases, much more).

Targeted WOTC Groups

Generally, WOTC eligibility is established when qualified wages are paid to members of a targeted group. These groups are:

  1. Qualified members of families receiving assistance under the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program,
  2. Qualified veterans,
  3. Qualified ex-felons,
  4. Designated community residents,
  5. Vocational rehabilitation referrals,
  6. Qualified summer youth employees,
  7. Qualified members of families in the Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program (SNAP),
  8. Qualified Supplemental Security Income recipients,
  9. Long-term family assistance recipients, and
  10. Long-term unemployed individuals.

READ MORE: Tax Credit Opportunity: Earn Credits for Hiring Certain Employees

You must meet certain WOTC eligibility requirements

Employers of all sizes are eligible to claim the WOTC, but there are a number of eligibility requirements to qualify for the credit. This includes both taxable and certain tax-exempt employers located in the United States and in some U.S. territories. Taxable employers can claim the WOTC against income taxes. However, eligible tax-exempt employers can claim the WOTC only against payroll taxes and only for wages paid to members of the qualified veteran targeted group. 

In addition, for each employee, there’s also a minimum requirement that the employee must have completed at least 120 hours of service for the employer. Also, the credit isn’t available for certain employees who are related to or who previously worked for the employer.

There are different rules and credit amounts for certain employees. The maximum credit available for the first-year wages is $2,400 for each employee, $4,000 for long-term family assistance recipients, and $4,800, $5,600 or $9,600 for certain veterans. Additionally, for long-term family assistance recipients, there’s a 50% credit for up to $10,000 of second-year wages, resulting in a total maximum credit, over two years, of $9,000. For some veterans, the maximum WOTC is higher: $4,800 for certain disabled veterans, $5,600 for certain unemployed veterans, and $9,600 for certain veterans who are both disabled and unemployed.

For summer youth employees, the wages must be paid for services performed during any 90-day period between May 1 and September 15. The maximum WOTC credit available for summer youth employees is $1,200 per employee.

A valuable credit

There are additional rules and requirements. For example, you must obtain certification that an employee is a target group member from the appropriate State Workforce Agency before you can claim the credit. The certification generally must be requested within 28 days after the employee begins work. 

In some cases, employers may elect not to claim the WOTC. And in limited circumstances, the rules may prohibit the credit or require an allocation of it. However, for most employers hiring from targeted groups, the credit can be valuable. Contact us with questions about WOTC eligibility or for more information about your situation.

© 2021. Updated September 2022.