The IRS offered guidance to businesses that plan to claim a newly expanded work opportunity tax credit for eligible unemployed veterans and unskilled younger workers.

Businesses that hire such workers during the first six-and-a-half months of this year have until Aug. 17 to request the certification required for these employees, according to the IRS.

Employers can use the newly revised Form 8850 to request certification from their state workforce agency. The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, enacted in February, added unemployed veterans returning to civilian life and “disconnected youth” to the list of groups covered by the credit. A disconnected youth is a person between the ages of 16 to 24 on the hiring date who has not been regularly employed or attending school and who meets other requirements.

In general, an unemployed veteran is a person discharged or released from the military during the five years preceding the hiring date who received unemployment benefits for at least four weeks during the one-year period ending on the hiring date.

Though eligible unemployed veterans and young people who begin work anytime during 2009 or 2010 may qualify a business for the credit, certification by the state workforce agency is required.

The WOTC offers tax savings to businesses that hire workers belonging to any of 12 targeted groups, including unemployed veterans and disconnected youth. The other 10 include people ages 18 to 39 living in designated communities in 43 states and the District of Columbia, Hurricane Katrina employees, recipients of various types of public assistance, and certain veterans, summer youth workers and ex-felons.

The certification requirement applies to all groups of workers except employees who were Hurricane Katrina victims. Normally, a business must file Form 8850 with the state workforce agency within 28 days after the eligible worker begins work. But under a special rule, businesses have until Aug. 17, 2009, to file this form for unemployed veterans and disconnected youth who begin work on or after Jan. 1, 2009, and before July 17, 2009. Notice 2009-28 and the instructions for Form 8850 provide details on this special rule.

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