Employment: HIRE Act Signed Into Law
On March 18, 2010, the President signed into law the "Hiring Incentives to Restore Employment Act of 2010" (the HIRE Act) - the centerpiece of which is a payroll tax holiday and up-to-$1,000 tax credit for businesses that hire unemployed workers. Here's an overview of these new hiring incentives.
Payroll Tax Holiday
To help stimulate the hiring of workers by the private sector, the new law exempts any private-sector employer that hires a worker who had been unemployed for at least 60 days from having to pay the employer's 6.2% share of the Social Security payroll tax on that employee for the remainder of 2010. A company could save a maximum of $6,621 if it hired an unemployed worker and paid that worker at least $106,800-the maximum amount of wages subject to Social Security taxes-by the end of the year.
Tax Credit for Retained Workers
As an additional incentive, for any qualifying worker hired under this initiative that the employer keeps on payroll for a continuous 52 weeks, the employer is eligible for an additional non-refundable tax credit of up to $1,000 after the 52-week threshold is reached, to be taken on their 2011 tax return. In order to be eligible, the employee's pay in the second 26-week period must be at least 80% of the pay in the first 26-week period.
Workers hired after the date of introduction of the legislation (Feb. 3, 2010) are eligible for both the payroll tax forgiveness and the tax credit for retained workers, but only wages paid after the effective date of the new law's enactment on March 18, 2010, receive the exemption for payroll taxes.
The tax benefit of the new incentive is immediate. It puts money into a business' cash flow immediately, since the tax is simply not collected in the first place.
The tax benefit generally applies only to private-sector employment, including nonprofit organizations-public sector jobs are generally not eligible for either benefit. However, employment by a public higher education institution would qualify.
There is no minimum weekly number of hours that the new employee must work for the employer to be eligible, and there is no maximum on the dollar amount of payroll taxes per employer that may be forgiven.
For workers that would otherwise be eligible for the "Work Opportunity Tax Credit," the employer must select one benefit or the other for 2010-no double dipping.
An employer can't claim the new tax breaks for hiring family members.
A worker who replaces another employee who performed the same job for the employer is not eligible for the benefit, unless the prior employee left the job voluntarily or for cause.
For the hiring to qualify, the new hire must sign an affidavit, under penalties of perjury, stating that he or she has not been employed for more than 40 hours during the 60-day period ending on the date the employment begins.
The incentive is not biased towards either low-wage or high- wage workers. Under the measure, a business saves 6.2% on both a $40,000 worker and a $90,000 worker.
The payroll tax holiday does not apply with respect to wages paid during the first calendar quarter of 2010, but the amount by which the Social Security payroll tax would have been reduced under the payroll tax holiday provision during the first calendar quarter is applied against the tax imposed on the employer for the second calendar quarter of 2010.
We will stay abreast of tax issues that affect Oklahoma employers and continue to bring you updates through the Employer's Legal Resource e-newsletter.
By Jeffrey C. Rambach, firstname.lastname@example.org