Photography by Suzy Hazelwood.

According to the U.S. Department of Justice, more than 10,000 former prisoners are released every week across America. They need jobs. In fact, the Prison Policy Initiative reports that 2 years after release, more than 30% are still unemployed.

Gratefully, the State of Iowa offers a special tax benefit to small businesses that hire ex-felons residing in that state. In addition to the federal Work Opportunity Tax Credit (WOTC), Iowa small businesses can receive a tax deduction of up to $20,000 per qualifying hire. Since this is a deduction (not a tax credit), the actual tax effect depends on the business’ tax rate.


Building on the success of the Work Opportunity Tax Credit (or WOTC), Senator Tim Kaine (D-VA) introduced a bill to expand employment opportunities for military spouses.

Expanding WOTC

Known as the Jobs and Childcare for Military Families Act of 2019, Senate Bill 1802 would recognize “Qualified Military Spouse” as a new WOTC program target group.


On June 20th, after a marathon mark-up session and by a vote of 24-17, the US House Ways and Means Committee advanced a number of measures. Of most importance to the Work Opportunity Tax Credit (WOTC), was H.R. 3301, “The Taxpayer Certainty and Disaster Relief Act.” The bill would extend for one year a number of incentives scheduled to expire at the end of 2019, including the Work Opportunity Tax Credit. This would extend WOTC and other provisions listed through 2020.


On June 5, 2019, Representative Steve Cohen (D, District of Columbia) introduce HR 3123, the Supermarket Tax Credit for Underserved Areas Act. This bill proposes both  new and increased tax incentives for operators who set up new supermarkets within designated areas nationwide.

The bill has eleven cosponsors from the District of Columbia and the states of Arizona, California, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts and New York.