By Military Connection Staff Writer Carol Miraula.

When the going gets tough, the tough get going. And no one is tougher than our nation’s Veterans. Many have found when they transition back to civilian life, it’s a tough economy,  and job openings are scarce. So they create their own jobs and jobs for others.

A study done by the Small Business Administration (SBA) found that veterans with 20-plus years of service had higher rates of self-employment. Veteran business owners possess military training that develops organizational skills and risk-tolerance. Veterans are at least 45 percent more likely to take the plunge into entrepreneurship than people with no active-duty military experience. Another added benefit, Veteran business owners tend to hire veterans.

Veteran Todd Fisher, the founder of two successful Yardley, PA based technology companies, agrees. In addition to the electronics and communication technology training he received as a signals officer in the Army, he learned other lessons that helped him run his two businesses. Fisher gives credit for the success of his companies, MobileMD and Intraprise Solutions, to his military training. His company employs 66 people, and of his first  11 employees, nine were veterans.

Several significant financial, mentoring and resources are available for veteran business owners. Service-disabled veteran-owned business owners have access to federal contract set-asides, a reserve of public contracts awarded to a minority or small business enterprise.

Among the additional resources for veteran business owners and service disabled veteran business owners are:

  • The SBA’s Veteran-Owned Business Programs , which include the Patriot Express Loan initiative for  veterans and members of the military community wanting to establish or expand small businesses, and the Operation Boots to Business initiative.
  • The VA Accelerator,  an online learning environment of eight curricula and five programs that focus on entrepreneurship, franchise ownership and employment.
  • The Veteran Entrepreneur Portal, which provides links to resources for financing and instructions on winning VA contracts.
  • VAMBOA – Veteran and Military Business Owners Association,  a non-profit veteran business trade association that promotes and assists Veteran Business  Owners, Service Disabled Veteran Owned Businesses and Military Business Owners. Membership in  VAMBOA is free and provides a multitude of resources

If your business needs additional workers, you may be able to achieve a number of goals at the same time: obtain qualified help for your business, reward those who served this country, and get a special tax break. Federal tax law allows employers to claim a work opportunity tax credit (WOTC) for hiring certain veterans. But to claim the credit, you must follow the rules.


Which veterans give employers a tax credit?

While hiring any vet can be beneficial for an employer because of the skills and training the vet has had, not all vets entitle an employer to the tax credit. Qualified vets for purposes of the WOTC include someone who:

  • Has served on active duty (not including training) in the U.S. Armed Forces for more than 180 days or has been discharged or released from active duty for a service-connected disability, and
  • Has not had a period of active duty (not including training) of more than 90 days that ended during the 60-day period ending on the hiring date.

Even if these tests are not met, a vet can still be considered qualified for the tax credit if he or she is:

  • A member of a family receiving assistance under the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) (food stamps) for at least a 3-month period ending during the 12-month period ending on the hiring date.
  • Veteran is unemployed for a period or periods totaling at least 4 weeks (whether or not consecutive) but less than 6 months in the 1-year period ending on the hiring date.
  • Veterans unemployed for a period or periods totaling at least 6 months (whether or not consecutive) in the 1-year period ending on the hiring date.
  • Entitled to compensation for a service-connected disability and hired not more than 1 year after being discharged or released from active duty in the U.S. Armed Forces.
  • Entitled to compensation for a service-connected disability and unemployed for a period or periods totaling at least 6 months (whether or not consecutive) in the 1-year period ending on the hiring date.


What is the amount of the tax credit?

You can reduce your tax bill by the full amount of the WOTC you’re entitled to.  The amount of the credit depends on the number of hours the vet works for you (at least 120 hours to claim any credit) and the category in which he or she falls. The credit ranges from a minimum of 25% of first-year wages up to $6,000 (for a top credit of $1,200) to 40% of $24,000 (for a top credit of $9,000).  You can find a complete listing of the credit amounts from the IRS (

There is no limit on the number of Veterans you can hire for this credit. However, the credit is part of the general business credit, which has an overall annual limit on the amount of credits you can claim currently (unused amounts can be taken in other years).


What steps must employers take?

You must hire a qualified vet before the end of 2013. While the credit may be claimed in 2014 with respect to the employee’s wages, the last day to hire is December 31, 2013 (unless Congress extends this break).

The vet must be certified by your state workforce agency as being qualified for purposes of the WOTC. To do this, you must submit IRS Form 8850 to your state workforce agency (usually the state’s unemployment department) within 28 days of the vet’s first day on the job. Have all new employees who might be qualified sign Form 8850 on their first day so you can submit it and find out whether a worker entitles you to a tax credit.

For any employee hired on or after January 1, 2012, and before April 2, 2013, you have until April 29, 2013, to submit the form and have it considered to be timely.

If a worker indicates that he or she believes he or she is eligible, you can claim the credit if the workforce agency fails to respond to your submission.

Barbara Weltman is an attorney, prolific author with such titles as J.K. Lasser’s Small Business Taxes and The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Starting a Home-Based Business, and trusted professional advocate for small businesses and entrepreneurs. She is also the publisher of Idea of the Day® and monthly e-newsletter Big Ideas for Small Business® at She was named one of the 100 Small Business Influencers for 2012. Follow her on Twitter @BarbaraWeltman.

For the first time, this year’s National SBIR conference will be co-located with the 15th Annual TechConnect World and the National Innovation Summit and Showcase (NISS) in Washington, DC from May 13,-May 16 2013. NISS is designed to accelerate commercialization of American innovation by providing the world’s largest on site match making with investors, whereas the National SBIR Conference will provide important information for small businesses and stakeholders who are competing for SBIR/STTR contracts.

The SBIR/STTR program is one of the largest federally funded R&D grant programs providing over $2.5 billion dollars in contracts to innovative small business firms annually. We expect over 4,000 innovators, agency leads, corporate partners and investors to participate in this conference. This new event format gives you the best of both worlds! Whether you are a veteran or a beginner innovator, you will find something to suit you. This conference offers a range of activities including one- on -one meetings with program managers, to information sessions on your technical SBIR/STTR questions.

Please remember to register before March 30, 2013 before prices go up!

To register online, please visit:

WASHINGTON – To speed eligibility determinations of Veteran-owned small businesses for Department of Veterans Affairs’ “Veterans First” contracts, VA will allow applicants the opportunity to correct minor deficiencies before an initial denial is issued. Starting May 1, VA will begin providing preliminary findings to applicants before completing a comprehensive review of their submissions. This is expected to greatly reduce the number of VA’s initial denials and subsequent requests for reconsideration from companies.

“A large percentage of verification denials are due to single points of failure that can be easily and quickly corrected. This improved process will enable us to bring more deserving Veteran business owners into VA’s system,” said Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric K. Shinseki.  “Our Center for Veterans Enterprise (CVE) will refine and measure the new process through pilot testing that has begun.”

Firms that would be denied based on easily corrected issues will receive a preliminary finding before a determination letter of eligibility is issued.  They will have 48 hours to respond with their intent to correct and resubmit the documents within a specified timeframe.  All Veteran-owned companies receiving preliminary findings will be encouraged to work with verification-assistance counselors to address identified issues that might result in denial.

CVE has initiated a series of limited pilots to exercise and refine this new process for applying for verification as a Veteran-owned small business.  The program is aimed at eliminating a large percentage of verification denials that are due to single points of failure.

As VA has improved the program and processes, the average time to initial determination has been reduced from more than 130 days during the summer of 2011 to an average of 46 days for those applications completed last month.

This is the most recent initiative aimed at improving the verification process.  In June 2012, Secretary Shinseki announced that VA would double the amount of time – from one year to two years – before the owners of service-disabled, Veteran-owned small businesses and Veteran-owned small businesses had to re-verify their status with VA.

The next generation Verification Case Management System (VCMS) is currently under development, with an estimated contract award for a new system in May 2013.  This will be a phased program with initial operational capability expected in October 2013.

In addition to the current Verification Assistance program elements, a fourth dimension to the program will launch with the pilot of VA’s first Pre-Application workshop for Veterans on March 13, 2013, at an event hosted by the SDVOSB Council in Virginia.  This workshop will outline what a Veteran needs to know and do to put together a successful verification application.

VA encourages feedback on the process and will post additional information and the listing of easily correctable issues on  CVE has also established a help desk service to address questions at 202-303-3260.