IRS Highlights Work Opportunity Tax Credit to Help Employers Hire Workers

IRS Highlights Work Opportunity Tax Credit to Help Employers Hire Workers

The IRS has reminded employers to check the Work Opportunity Tax Credit available for hiring long-term unemployment recipients and other groups of workers facing significant barriers to employment.

Cash contributions made either to supporting organizations or to establish or maintain a donor advised fund do not qualify. Also, cash contributions carried forward from prior years do not qualify, nor do cash contributions to most private foundations and most cash contributions to charitable remainder trusts.

Subject to certain limits, taxpayers who itemize could generally claim a deduction for charitable contributions made to qualifying charitable organizations. These range from 20 percent to 60 percent of adjusted gross income (AGI) and vary by the type of contribution and type of charitable organization. The law now permits electing individuals to apply an increased limit of up to 100 percent of their AGI, for qualified contributions made during 2021. More information can be found at

The Work Opportunity Tax Credit encourages employers to hire workers certified as members of any of the following targeted groups facing barriers to employment:

  • temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) recipients;
  • unemployed veterans, including disabled veterans;
  • formerly incarcerated individuals;
  • designated community residents living in Empowerment Zones or Rural Renewal Counties;
  • vocational rehabilitation referrals;
  • supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) recipients;
  • supplemental Security Income (SSI) recipients;
  • long-term family assistance recipients; and
  • long-term unemployment recipients.

An employer must first request certification by submitting IRS Form 8850, Pre-screening Notice and Certification Request for the Work Opportunity Credit to their state workforce agency (SWA) to qualify for the credit within 28 days after the eligible worker commences work. However, under a special relief provision, a submission deadline on November 8, 2021, applies to qualified summer youth employees residing in Empowerment Zones and designated community residents residing in Empowerment Zones.

Eligible employees must commence work on or after January 1, 2021, and before October 9, 2021, to qualify for the submission deadline. The Work Opportunity Tax Credit is claimed on eligible businesses’ federal income tax returns and is usually based on wages paid to qualified workers during the first year of employment. The credit is first figured on Form 5884, Work Opportunity Credit, and then is claimed on Form 3800, General Business Credit.

Under a special rule, employers are permitted to claim the Work Opportunity Tax Credit for hiring qualified veterans, although the credit is not available to tax-exempt organizations for most groups of new hires. Such organizations claim the credit against payroll taxes on Form 5884-C, Work Opportunity Credit for Qualified Tax Exempt Organizations.

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