The proposed Disability Employment Incentive Act would offer tax credits for employers who recruit, hire, and retain workers with disabilities.
Washington, D.C., April 9 – A new bill proposed by Pennsylvania Senator Robert Casey (D-PA) would offer valuable new tax credits to employers who recruit, hire, and retain workers with disabilities. Recently introduced into the United States Senate, the Disability Employment Incentive Act (S.630) would advance three existing tax credits to support employers, promote diverse hiring and make the workplace more accessible for individuals with disabilities.
These potential tax credits come at a critical time in the field of disability employment. The nation’s overall labor force participation rate dropped to 61.4 percent in March 2021. At the same time, the data shows that workers with disabilities have seen an even bigger drop in their labor force participation. According to the University of New Hampshire’s Institute on Disability (UNH-IOD), the labor force participation rate for working-age people with disabilities is currently only 33.4 percent.
Yet even before the COVID-19 pandemic, workers with disabilities faced significant barriers to employment including workplace inaccessibility, inefficient support and underemployment in many occupations. People with disabilities are often seen as warm but not competent, according to attitudinal surveys done of those without disabilities. This means that prejudice and stigma remain major barriers that prevent people with disabilities from finding work or carrying out their jobs. Despite this, a Kessler Foundation survey carried out in 2015 revealed that an overwhelming majority of people with disabilities want to work or improve their skills.
So how would these proposed tax credits advance opportunities for people with disabilities? The three tax credits include:
- Work Opportunity Tax Credit: The DEI Act would raise the tax credit of an employer who hires an individual with a disability on a referral basis through the state Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) agency, an individual who receives Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits, and/or an individual who is receiving Supplemental Security Income (SSI). For the first year of employment, the credit would be 40 percent of the individual’s salary. The Act also would provide a tax credit for businesses that retain an employee for the second year of employment. You can check here for more information.
- Disability Access Expenditures: This covers a raise in tax credits for small businesses with less than $3 million in gross annual receipts or with no more than sixty full-time employees. The maximum tax credit would be increased from $5,000 to $10,000.
- Architectural and Transportation Barrier Tax Credit: For expenses incurred by a business in removing physical barriers in qualified facilities or transportation vehicles during a single year, the Act would increase the tax credit to $30,000. Businesses would also be able to utilize the credit to cover expenses incurred to provide accessible telecommunications and online business operations.
“Studies show that 70 percent of the 22 million working age people with disabilities are striving to work,” said Jennifer Laszlo Mizrahi, president of RespectAbility. “Moreover, Thomas Edison, Harriet Tubman, Stephen Hawking, Greta Thunberg and others with disabilities have been some of the greatest innovators on earth. Give people with disabilities a chance and we can help strengthen our communities.”
Individuals with disabilities contribute enormously to the workforce and economy. They deserve the same opportunities to work like everyone else. With the Disability Employment Incentive Act (DEIA), employers would be encouraged to hire and retain more individuals with disabilities, thereby lowering unemployment among people with disabilities.