July 3, 2017 at 3:55 pm #1404
Savvy Small Business owners are finding out that hiring ex-convicts might be the second chance both their business and the ex-con needs to thrive. Thanks to government programs like the Work Opportunity Tax Credit (WOTC) and a Federal bonding program, many small businesses are finding out that hiring felons is a good thing.
The United States department of Labor offers tax breaks to businesses that give jobs to people recently released from prison. The WOTC was implemented in 1996 as part of the Small Business Protection Act. This Act gives tax breaks to businesses that hire ex-felons as well as welfare recipients, veterans, SSI recipients, and disadvantaged teens.
Felons who are hired within one year of a conviction or a prison release are eligible for the tax credit. The credit is calculated based on the wage of their 1st year of employment. For employees that work at least 120 hours and less than 400 hours, the tax credit is 25% of the wages paid. For employees that work more than 400 hours, it is 40% with a $6,000 cap for the annual base wage calculation. Small business owners stand to receive a tax credit up to $2,400 per qualifying ex-con.
Small business owners who have taken advantage of this program report that overall, ex-felons perform slightly higher than their non-felon counterparts. Some reasoning behind this is that if you are the one to take a chance on an ex-con, their gratitude will translate into loyalty and they’ll want to work harder. In addition, recently released prisoners have probation restrictions and an officer that they must report to who helps keep them on track. They know that there are big consequences for not living up to their new life.
Even so, hiring an ex-felon might be scary for some small business owners. That is why there is a Federal Bonding Program in which, states have the power to distribute money to cover losses from theft for the first 6 months after an ex-con is hired.
If you take a chance on an ex-con, you might be pleasantly surprised with a punctual, hardworking individual who wants to work to prove their worth. But any hire has potential risks. When it comes to hiring a former convict, it never hurts to be cautious. You’ll want to closely monitor your new hire, and ensure that your employee isn’t working in an area of the company where his criminal past could come into play.
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