MSE Act to help military spouses

28 Jun 2007 | Lance Cpl. Patrick M. Fleischman

Military spouses play a critical role in supporting service members as they serve our country, but when looking for a job they can sometimes come up empty handed.

Addressing this issue is the Military Spouses Employment Act; If ratified, the act will provide employers a tax incentive to hire qualified military spouses.

The act was originally introduced last year, but was not passed by Congress.

Sponsored by U.S. Representative John Carter, of the 31st Texas district, the act will expand the Workforce Opportunity Tax Credit to include military spouses.

“Spouses of military personnel deserve a level playing field in the job market”, said Congressman Zach Wamp, of the 3rd district of Tennessee. “Right now, many employers are hesitant to hire military spouses who may move away sooner than other potential employees.”

Qualified spouses include all active-duty military spouses, as well as spouses of National Guard and Reserve members who are activated for 90 days or more.

If expanded, WOTC would allow employers to claim an income tax credit of 40 percent for the first $6,000 in wages for qualified spouses who remain on the payroll at least 400 hours. For spouses who remain employed from 120 hours to 399 hours, employers are eligible for a tax credit of 25 percent.

“I am pleased to introduce legislation that will help improve the quality of life for military families while enhancing the business communities that surround military bases,” said Carter. “The tax incentives will give our devoted military spouses greater access to quality jobs. Statistics show military spouses traditionally earn less than civilians despite higher graduation rates and living in areas with better paying jobs. It is my hope this incentive will bring jobs to military communities and level the playing field for qualified employees who happen to be military spouses.”

This bill may also help with service member retention, according to a press release by Carter’s office.

As research has found, the influence of military spouses on service member retention decisions has increased with the proportion of military spouses working outside the home, stated the release.

Although the bill could help military spouses gain employment, it still has to be scheduled for debate by the House Committee on Ways and Means, voted on by the House of Representatives and Senate and finally signed by the President – by that time it could change substantially.