The WOTC Program Explained: How It Can Benefit Employers and Job Seekers

What Is Wotc Program


If you’re wondering what is WOTC program, here’s the quick answer: The Work Opportunity Tax Credit (WOTC) is a federal tax incentive that encourages businesses to hire people who face significant barriers to employment.

Key Points:
– A financial benefit for employers.
– Targets specific groups that face challenges in getting jobs.
– Requires employer certification to claim the credit.

Navigating tax credits can be tough, especially for small business owners focused on day-to-day operations. One valuable program many overlook is the Work Opportunity Tax Credit (WOTC). This program offers a crucial lifeline by giving tax breaks to businesses that hire individuals from specific groups, like veterans and ex-felons, who often struggle to find employment.

Federal Tax Credit

The WOTC is a federal tax credit helping businesses reduce their tax liability. It’s not a complicated deduction but a straightforward credit that cuts down the amount of taxes owed, which can be as much as $9,600 per eligible new hire.

Target Groups

Employers get this tax credit by hiring from groups that face big employment barriers. These groups include veterans, SNAP recipients, ex-felons, and those who have been unemployed for a long time. Each of these groups has unique challenges, making this program highly impactful.

Barriers to Employment

People in these groups face many obstacles that make finding a job difficult. By participating in the WOTC program, businesses not only get a financial boost but also make a positive social impact. It shows a commitment to creating a diverse and inclusive workforce.

How WOTC Benefits Employers and Job Seekers - what is wotc program infographic mindmap-5-items

What is the WOTC Program?

The Work Opportunity Tax Credit (WOTC) is a federal tax credit available to employers who hire individuals from certain targeted groups. These groups often face significant barriers to employment. The goal is to encourage diversity in the workplace while helping these individuals find meaningful work.

How Does the WOTC Program Work?

Certification Process

To benefit from the WOTC, employers must follow a specific certification process. Here’s how it works:

  1. Pre-Screening: Before hiring, employers and job applicants must complete IRS Form 8850, Pre-Screening Notice and Certification Request for the Work Opportunity Credit. This form helps identify if the applicant belongs to a targeted group.

  2. Submit Forms: Within 28 days of the new hire’s start date, employers must submit Form 8850 along with ETA Form 9061 (Individual Characteristics Form) to their State Workforce Agency (SWA). In some cases, ETA Form 9062 may also be required.

  3. Approval: The SWA reviews the forms. If the employee is certified as a member of a targeted group, the employer can then claim the tax credit.

Forms to Complete

  • IRS Form 8850: This form is essential for pre-screening and must be completed by both the employer and the job applicant.
  • ETA Form 9061: This form collects additional information about the applicant’s characteristics.
  • ETA Form 9062: Sometimes required for specific cases to provide more detailed information.

Who Qualifies for the WOTC Program?

The WOTC program targets several groups that face significant barriers to employment. Here are the main categories:

  • Veterans: Includes those receiving SNAP benefits, those who are unemployed, and those with a service-connected disability.
  • Ex-Felons: Individuals who have been convicted of a felony and are hired within a year of their conviction or release.
  • TANF Recipients: Individuals receiving Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) for at least 9 months during the 18-month period ending on the hiring date.
  • SNAP Recipients: Individuals or families receiving food stamps under the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP).
  • SSI Recipients: Individuals receiving Supplemental Security Income benefits.
  • Long-Term Unemployed: Individuals who have been unemployed for 27 consecutive weeks or more and have received unemployment compensation.

By hiring from these groups, employers can claim a tax credit ranging from $1,200 to $9,600 per eligible employee.

Federal tax forms - what is wotc program

Example: Imagine a construction company hires a veteran who has been unemployed for over six months. By completing the required forms and submitting them within 28 days, the company can receive a tax credit of up to $9,600 for this hire.

Leveraging Technology

Using Rockerbox’s proprietary technology can simplify this process. By automating the WOTC application and tracking, businesses can improve their cash flow by up to 40%. This makes the process not only easier but also more efficient.

In the next section, we will explore the myriad benefits the WOTC program offers to employers, including tax savings and reduced hiring costs.

Benefits of the WOTC Program for Employers

How to Claim the WOTC

Claiming the Work Opportunity Tax Credit (WOTC) can seem complex, but breaking it down into steps makes it manageable.

  1. Pre-Screening and Certification: Start with IRS Form 8850. This form helps you pre-screen applicants to see if they belong to a targeted group. Both you and the applicant need to fill this out.

  2. Submit Forms: After the applicant is hired, complete ETA Form 9061 or 9062. These forms, along with Form 8850, must be submitted to your State Workforce Agency (SWA) within 28 days of the new hire’s start date. This is crucial. Missing this window means you can’t claim the credit.

  3. Track Work Hours and Wages: Keep accurate records of the hours worked and wages paid to the certified employees. This helps in calculating the tax credit.

  4. Claim the Credit: Use IRS Form 5884 when filing your annual tax returns to claim the WOTC. For tax-exempt employers, use Form 5884-C.

  5. Maintain Records: Keep copies of all forms and documents submitted to the SWA. Proper record-keeping is essential in case of an audit.

Financial Impact on Employers

Claiming the WOTC offers substantial financial benefits:

  • Tax Savings: The WOTC can reduce your federal tax liability. For each eligible employee, you can save up to $9,600. This isn’t just a deduction; it’s a dollar-for-dollar credit against taxes owed.

  • Hiring Incentives: The program encourages hiring from diverse backgrounds, including veterans and long-term unemployed individuals. This can reduce hiring costs and improve workforce diversity.

  • Economic Opportunities: By employing individuals from targeted groups, you contribute to economic growth. It helps reduce unemployment and increases community welfare.

  • No Cap on Credits: Unlike some other tax credits, there is no limit to the number of eligible employees you can claim under the WOTC. This means more opportunities for savings.

  • Cash Flow Improvement: Using Rockerbox’s proprietary technology can automate the WOTC process, improving your cash flow by up to 40%. This means less time spent on paperwork and more time focusing on your business.

  • Minimal Time Investment: Rockerbox technology simplifies the process. It automates data collection and ensures compliance, reducing the workload on your HR team.

In the next section, we’ll look at how the WOTC program benefits job seekers, providing them with valuable employment opportunities and reducing barriers to employment.

Benefits of the WOTC Program for Job Seekers

The Work Opportunity Tax Credit (WOTC) program isn’t just a win for employers; it’s also a game-changer for job seekers. Here’s how:

Employment Opportunities

The WOTC program opens doors for individuals who have faced significant barriers to employment. This includes veterans, ex-felons, and those receiving public assistance. Employers are incentivized to hire from these targeted groups, which means more job openings for those who need them most.

Reduced Barriers

By providing tax credits to employers, the WOTC program encourages companies to consider applicants they might otherwise overlook. This reduces the stigma and barriers that many job seekers from targeted groups face.

For example, veterans transitioning back to civilian life or individuals who have been long-term unemployed can find stable jobs more easily because employers are motivated to hire them.

Career Growth

Once hired, employees from these groups have the opportunity to build their careers. Stable employment can lead to skill development, promotions, and better job prospects in the future.

For instance, an ex-felon who secures a job through WOTC can gain valuable work experience and references, which can be crucial for career advancement.

Targeted Groups

The WOTC program specifically targets individuals who have historically faced employment challenges. These groups include:

  • Veterans: Especially those with service-connected disabilities.
  • Ex-Felons: Those hired within a year of their conviction or release.
  • TANF Recipients: Individuals receiving Temporary Assistance for Needy Families.
  • SNAP Recipients: Those receiving food stamps.
  • SSI Recipients: Individuals receiving Supplemental Security Income.
  • Long-Term Unemployed: Those who have been out of work for 27 weeks or more.

Employers receive tax credits for hiring from these groups, making them more likely to offer jobs to these individuals.

In the next section, we’ll address some of the most frequently asked questions about the WOTC program, helping to clear up any lingering doubts and provide further clarity on this beneficial initiative.

Frequently Asked Questions about the WOTC Program

What does WOTC do for me?

The Work Opportunity Tax Credit (WOTC) can be a game-changer for job seekers. Here’s how:

  • Job Incentives: The program encourages employers to hire individuals from specific target groups who often face barriers to employment. This means more job opportunities for you if you belong to one of these groups.
  • Reduced Barriers: Being part of a target group—such as a veteran, a recipient of SNAP benefits, or someone who has been long-term unemployed—can make you more attractive to employers. The tax credit they receive can be up to $9,600 per hire, which is a strong incentive for them to consider your application seriously.

Why do companies ask for WOTC?

Employers ask for WOTC because it offers them significant benefits:

  • Federal Tax Credit: Companies can reduce their tax liability by up to $9,600 per eligible hire. This tax saving can improve their bottom line and cash flow.
  • Hiring Incentives: The WOTC makes it financially advantageous for companies to hire individuals from underrepresented groups. This not only helps the company save money but also promotes diversity and inclusion in the workplace.
  • No Cap on Credits: There is no limit to the number of individuals a business can hire to qualify for the tax credit. This means that companies can benefit from the WOTC multiple times, making it a valuable tool in their hiring strategy.

Should I fill out a WOTC form?

Yes, you should. Here’s why:

  • Voluntary Program: Filling out the WOTC eligibility questionnaire is voluntary, but it can be beneficial for both you and the employer.
  • Employer Incentives: By completing the form, you help your potential employer determine if they can claim the tax credit. This could make you a more attractive candidate.
  • Privacy Protection: Reputable companies have measures in place to protect your personal information. The benefits of potentially speeding up the hiring process and increasing your chances of getting a job outweigh the minimal risk involved.

The WOTC program not only benefits employers by providing tax incentives but also plays a crucial role in helping job seekers from underrepresented groups find meaningful employment. If you’re applying for jobs, taking a few moments to complete the WOTC questionnaire could positively impact your application and support employers in their hiring decisions.

In the next section, we’ll explore how to claim the WOTC and the financial impact it can have on employers.


The Work Opportunity Tax Credit (WOTC) program is a win-win for both employers and job seekers. By offering federal tax credits to employers who hire individuals from targeted groups, the program helps those who face barriers to employment find meaningful jobs.

Rockerbox, with its proprietary technology, simplifies the WOTC process. Our automated system integrates seamlessly with most recruiting and hiring software, making it easier for employers to capture these valuable tax credits. This streamlined approach can improve your business’s cash flow by up to 40%, all with minimal time investment.

Employers benefit from significant tax savings and reduced hiring costs, while job seekers gain better access to employment opportunities. By leveraging Rockerbox’s technology, businesses can focus on growing their operations without getting bogged down in paperwork.

Ready to take advantage of the WOTC program? Visit our WOTC service page to learn more about how Rockerbox can help you maximize your tax credits and improve your cash flow.

In summary, the WOTC program offers substantial benefits for both employers and job seekers, and Rockerbox’s innovative solutions make it easier than ever to participate. Don’t miss out on this opportunity to enhance your business and support underrepresented job seekers.