November 10, 2011

Manchin Votes for Bipartisan Jobs Bill to Help get our Veterans Back to Work and End Unfair Penalty on Contractors

Bill would provide incentives to hire veterans and repeal 3 percent tax on all government contractors

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) voted today for bipartisan legislation to create jobs for veterans by giving employers tax incentives to hire them and ending an unfair, blanket penalty on all government contractors. 

“Our federal government has got to focus on creating jobs and treat people fairly, whether it’s our brave veterans who are struggling to find work, or whether it’s the small business contractors who work hard and create good jobs,” Senator Manchin said. “This bipartisan legislation just makes sense: it eliminates an unfair penalty that hurts job creation, and it creates incentives to get our veterans back to work. And I’m so encouraged to see that Senators from both parties came together today to put our veterans and small businesses before their political parties.”

As part of the “Tax Increase Prevention and Reconciliation Act of 2005,” Congress enacted a 3 percent withholding on payments for goods and services to contractors made by all branches of the federal government and its agencies, as well as state and local governments, counties, and parishes. The requirement was implemented to address the non-compliance of government contractors in the payment of federal taxes, also known as the “tax gap,” and is scheduled to go into effect in 2013. The penalty was originally enacted to address a finding by the Government Accountability Office (GAO) that 33,000 civilian agency contractors owed $3 billion in unpaid taxes. The bill to repeal the 3 percent withholding tax – S. 674 – today passed the Senate 95-0, with one Senator voting “present.” 

“I have said time and again that we need to create fairness in our tax system that ensures everyone is paying their share,” Senator Manchin said. “Let me be clear: There are good operators, who pay their taxes, and bad operators, who avoid them. We should go after the bad operators, but we shouldn’t hurt the good ones. So many West Virginia businesses have told me that this penalty can be the difference in making a profit – and creating jobs.” 

The final bill also provides tax credits for businesses who hire unemployed veterans and expands education and training opportunities for older veterans. The veterans measures, collectively known as the “VOW to Hire Heroes Act of 2011,” were added to the bill as an amendment. The provision would create a tax credit for companies that hire unemployed veterans and increase existing tax credits for companies that hire veterans who have disabilities due to military service. While the national unemployment rate for October was 9 percent, the joblessness rate among veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan is 12.1 percent, up from 10.6 percent at this time last year. This amendment was added to the bill by a vote of 94-1, with one Senator voting “present.”  

“This bill also contains important tax credits aimed at getting one very important group – the brave veterans who have served this country – back into the workforce. Transitioning from a war zone back to civilian life is hard enough, but with a job market like the one we are facing, that transition has been made more difficult,” Senator Manchin said. “After all the sacrifices they have made for this country on the front lines, our brave veterans deserve our support when they return home.”