Is it the calm before a storm? Congress is on vacation. The Senate is scheduled to reconvene on January 23rd. The House on January 17th.
Before members of Congress left for the holiday in December, they had tumultuously agreed on a 2-month extension of the 2011 payroll tax cut and left many expiring tax items floating into limbo. The Work Opportunity Tax Credit, of course, is counted among these unfinished items.
Although nothing has made significant news yet, the conference that was promised last month by House and Senate leaders is already busy behind the scenes. According to Paul Suplizio, lobbyist and President of the WOTC Coalition, conferees for the Senate and House respectively are in discussion with their own members but not yet with each other. The first meeting between Senate and House conferees will likely take place next week.
The goal of the conference is to hammer out a compromise that will allow Congress to pass a full-year extension of the payroll tax cut, in addition to other high-priority items. They need to do it before the end of February when the 2-month extension expires.
Our goal is to include WOTC and other tax items in that legislation. The conferees, however, face historically difficult and stressful circumstances. WOTC remains in a very precarious situation. If the tax extenders do not make it into the anticipated payroll tax cut bill, it will be difficult to see another vote on these items until after the November election.
During the past 15 years, WOTC has expired and been renewed at least 7 times. Three of these renewals took place well into the next calendar years — as much as 11 months after expiration.
If the program is not renewed in February, business will continue as usual. Employers will continue to screen for all of the WOTC target groups. The State Workforce Agencies, however, will receive instructions to place a hold on WOTC employee certifications — except for those who qualify under the military veteran categories, which have been extended already through December 2012.
Then, as soon as the renewal legislation is passed, the State Workforce Agencies will complete and issue the rest of the outstanding WOTC employee certifications. We’ve lived through it before. But let’s hope it doesn’t come to that.
My office will be following the lead of the WOTC Coalition by contacting key legislators during the upcoming weeks. I’ll post new information and guidance as it becomes available.
Please feel welcome to contact me personally if you would like to discuss (or simply commiserate). vah@WOTCPlanet.com