Tax credit rewards employers of ex-felons

Did you know that half a million people in the United States are released from prison each year?

According to a report by the Justice Department, more than 5.6 million Americans are in prison or have served time in prison. That is 1 in 37 adults in the United States, which has the highest incarceration level in the world.

The Work Opportunity Tax Credit (WOTC) is a federal income tax credit that can save employers up to $2,400 in the first year of employment when they hire someone who has been convicted of a felony or recently been released from prison.

Would you feel comfortable working with a convicted felon? Would your company even hire an ex-felon?

“No” may be the easy answer, but it comes at a price. It costs taxpayers approximately $20,000 dollars a year to keep one individual incarcerated.

Adjusting to life on the outside is very tough for former prisoners. There is a stigma — and a record — they carry with them wherever they go.

When ex-offenders fill out job applications truthfully, they are often turned down for the jobs. And unemployment makes it tough for offenders to get their lives back on track.

Having a criminal record causes employers to stereotype ex-offenders as violent people, people who don’t have any skills, who don’t have any ambition to get their lives back on track. This perception is wrong.

The recidivism rate of offenders depends a great deal on employment. If an ex-offender is employed, they can pay taxes, pay their bills, and we as taxpayers are not paying for them to be locked up.

If the stigma that comes into play when hiring an ex-offender is a concern, there is another option to look at. It is called the Federal Bonding Program.

The FBP provides individual fidelity bonds to employers for job applicants who may be denied coverage by commercial insurance carriers because of an arrest record, conviction or imprisonment.

When commercial insurance is denied because of an individual’s background, the employer often denies a job to that person. FBP coverage is provided at no cost to the employer or job applicant.

For more information on FBP, go to

For more questions on the WOTC program or to inquire about hiring an ex-offender, contact Art at860-678-4401.

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