ETA Form to Be Short Lived – Empowerment Zone Omitted from New WOTC Characteristics Form

It is quite sad.  Just 2 days before the Senate Finance Committee completed its markup of the Family and Business Tax Cut Certainty Act of 2012, the Department of Labor issued Training and Guidance Letter (TEGL) 04-2012.
TEGL 04-2012 introduces the Department’s updated Form ETA 9061, which is the Individual Characteristics Form included in the WOTC program’s employee-application for certification.
Why is it sad?

  • TEGL 04-2012 intentionally omitted the WOTC programs’ Empowerment Zone element for the Designated Community Member target group.
  • It also completely omitted the Summer Youth target group because by definition a Summer Youth is someone who lives within an Empowerment Zone.

These omissions make some sense, given the fact that the Empowerment Zone program expired on December 31, 2011.  However, the Family and Business Tax Cut Certainty Act of 2012 (aka tax extenders bill) now proposes to retroactively renew the Empowerment Zone program for 2 years through December 31, 2013.
In other words, when the tax-extenders bill becomes law, the updated Form ETA 9061, which omits all reference to Empowerment Zones, will have been rendered retroactively obsolete before it was even published.
There is a potentially BIG administrative hassle hiding in this little mess.  TEGL 04-2012 gives employers and their representatives 90 days to complete their transition from the old ETA 9061 to the updated version.  It doesn’t make sense, however, to use the new form now or in the future if the tax extender bill will have rendered it obsolete retroactively to January 1, 2012.
Depending on when Congress is able to pass the tax-extenders, employers who transition in time for the current 90-day deadline will almost certainly face another transition as the Department of Labor issues a second update to reverse the omissions of the recent form.
Let us suggest to the Department of Labor that it should temporarily suspend the transition requirements of TEGL 04-2012. Allow employers and State Workforce Agencies to continue using the current versions of their ETA Forms until all of the pending tax-extender issues affecting WOTC have been fully settled by Congress and the President.

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