BOWIE, Md. — In the aftermath of Hurricanes Harvey and Irma, the Tire Industry Association (TIA) is lobbying Congress to apply the Work Opportunity Tax Credit (WOTC) to disaster victims.
The WOTC is a federal tax credit offered to employers who hire workers coming from underprivileged or chronically underemployed groups. It was applied to employers who hired victims of Hurricane Katrina and it should be applied again now, according to TIA.
The idea of the WOTC, according to the U.S. Employment and Training Administration, is to "incentivize workplace diversity and facilitate access to good jobs for American workers."
Unemployed veterans, ex-felons and food-stamp recipients are among the underprivileged groups identified under the WOTC.
TIA has joined other members of the WOTC Coalition to urge Congress to reject restrictions to the application of the law to disaster victims.
"Currently, WOTC does not include disaster victims as a target group," TIA said. "Disasters of the current magnitude will shut down thousands of firms, many of them permanently, leaving workers without places of employment."
Allowing employers to claim WOTC for disaster victims would be a major help in the rebuilding process, according to TIA.
"Assisting those who have lost jobs and face uncertainty as to whether they can be employed again by their former employer is essential," the association said.
"People are struggling with problems of housing, transportation, and family, and critically need an income, which the WOTC incentive has been proven to provide cost-effectively," it said.
According to TIA, the federal government allowed application of the WOTC toward the hiring of Hurricane Katrina victims, as well as to victims of Hurricane Rita, the Midwestern floods of 2008 and the recovery zone after 9/11. The association is urging Congress to allow that again for victims of Harvey and Irma.
"In an emergency of Harvey's size, anything less won't be equal to the task," it said.