Sen. Charles Schumer.
U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer (D-NY) toured the International Paper facility Friday, Aug. 31 and revealed his plan to prioritize the extension of The Returning Heroes and Wounded Warriors Tax Credit, which is a proven success in incentivizing companies to hire veterans and is set to expire at the end of this year.
Schumer applauds International Paper’s goal to hire more veterans and urges other North Country businesses to similarly seek to hire these highly skilled workers that often fall through the cracks when returning home to civilian employment. The Returning Heroes and Wounded Warriors Tax Credit, enacted in November 2011, provides tax credits to businesses of up to $9,600 depending on the length of time a veteran has been unemployed, and if that veteran has a service-connected disability.
Schumer has fought to include this critical tax credit in the Senate tax extenders package that will be considered on the Senate floor in September. International Paper currently employs over 100 veterans, including four in the past year. This federal tax credit would allow them to save thousands of dollars for those recently hired veterans and would help achieve their goal to hire more veterans in the future.
“This vital tax credit is a proven-success in helping businesses to hire more veterans, and we cannot allow such a powerful antidote to the economic recession come to an end,” said Schumer. “The Returning Heroes and Wounded Warrior Tax Credit is set to expire at year’s end, which would be a devastating blow to the efforts of companies like International Paper that want to get unemployed veterans in the North Country back to work. Renewing the veterans’ tax credit isn’t just the smart thing to do for companies in the North Country and across the country, it’s the right thing to do to honor the sacrifices made by our heroes in uniform. Our veterans have spent months and even years of their lives protecting our freedom, and I am going to fight to renew this tax break so that veterans don’t spend the same amount of time in the unemployment line.”
Schumer was joined by Garry Douglas, President of the Plattsburgh-North County Chamber of Commerce; Dan Palmer, Essex County Manager; Randy Douglas, Chairman of Essex Board of Supervisors; Debra Malaney, Supervisor for the Town of Ticonderoga; Matt Courtright, Executive Director of Ticonderoga Area Chamber; and Carol Calabrese, Essex County IDA as he continued his push to allow upstate New York businesses to hire more veterans in the near future.
International Paper, which has a long record of hiring veterans in the past and hopes to hire many more in the future, is a mainstay in the Ticonderoga community. Founded in 1898 and headquartered in Memphis, Tennessee, the company employs approximately 70,000 people in more than 24 countries. It the largest producer of plastic lids and paper cups, supplying them to fast-food giants like McDonald's, Wendy's, Subway, and Starbucks. The company has taken an active role within the North Country region, supporting Fort Ticonderoga and regularly sponsoring floats in local parades.
International Paper has performed very strongly since the recession and was recently awarded a Gold Star award for achieving the nation’s highest recognition for safety. Consequently, employees have ample opportunity for professional growth. Any new veterans who are hired at the company next year due to the extension of the Returning Heroes and Wounded Warrior Tax Credit will be in a strong position to build careers.
President Obama signed the Returning Heroes and Wounded Warriors Tax Credit into law on November 21, 2011 as part of the VOW to Hire Heroes Act, which contained the series of tax credits for businesses that hire out-of-work veterans. As a result of the tax break, businesses that hire veterans who have been searching for work for at least four weeks, but less than six months, are eligible for a tax credit of up to $2,400 per each veteran hired.
Businesses that hire a veteran who has been looking for a job for at least six months would receive a tax credit worth up to $5,600. If a company hires a veteran with a service-connected disability who has been seeking work for at least six months, that business would be eligible for tax credits worth up to $9,600. While tax-exempt organizations save a slightly smaller percentage, a non-profit company can still save up to $6,240 if they hire a disabled veteran who has been unemployed for six months or more.
Schumer pushed to extend the Returning Heroes and Wounded Warriors Tax Credit in light of disappointing unemployment numbers for veterans, particularly in upstate New York. Clinton County alone has 280 unemployed veterans, while the North Country Region has 1,167, according to New York State Department of Labor’s most recent data from 2010. According to the state’s data, there are 16,846 unemployed veterans in upstate New York as a whole.
Unemployment among New York’s veteran population, particularly younger veterans returning from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, has remained stubbornly high over the last several years. Last year, the veteran population in the United States consisted of 20.2 million men and 1.8 million women, accounting for about 9.5 percent of the adult population in the country. 2.2 million of those veterans served after September 11, 2011, and two thirds of that total were under 35 years old.
Unemployment among veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan has risen to 12.1 percent nationally, up from 10.6 percent from a year ago. 240,000 young veterans from Iraq and Afghanistan are unemployed nationwide. An astonishing 21.9 percent of male veterans aged 18-24 who have served since September 11th were unemployed last year, according to data recently released by the Bureau of Labor Statistics.