Senate Dems introduce bill to expand tax credit for hiring veterans

The national unemployment rate among post-9/11 veterans was 10.8 percent in December, well above the nation's 7.8 percent jobless rate. 

In Montana, which has the second-highest population of veterans per capita of any state, the jobless rate among veterans was 17.5 percent. 

The Baucus-Tester bill, introduced on Thursday, improves the existing Work Opportunity Tax Credit for employers by allowing them to claim a $2,400 credit when they hire any veteran discharged within the last five years.  

Under the current rules, employers have to verify a set of criteria with their individual states’ employment agencies before they can claim the credit.

The bill will simplify the qualification process — veterans would only have to show their discharge papers to show they left the service within five years. 

Baucus authored the original credit for hiring unemployed vets in early 2009, as well as its 2011 expansion and its extension earlier this year.  

In November 2011, President Obama signed a veterans jobs bill that provided a $5,600 tax credit for hiring long-term unemployed veterans, $2,400 for hiring short-term unemployed veterans and credits of up to $9,600 for hiring unemployed veterans with service-related disabilities.

The bill also helps returning veterans earn certifications and licenses for skills they learned in the military.

In addition, the legislation calls for better coordination between the six different veteran unemployment programs in the Veterans Affairs and Labor departments, and it compels executive agencies to award contracts to small businesses owned by disabled veterans.