Federal tax program helps employ thousands in state

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Washington employers received a record $66 million in federal tax credits for the 2011 tax-filing season for hiring hard-to-place job seekers who met specific criteria, the state Employment Security Department said Monday.

The federal Work Opportunity Tax Credit is available to employers who hire military veterans, the disabled, ex-inmates, food-stamp recipients and individuals who receive Supplemental Security Income. The credit ranges from $2,400 to $9,600 per eligible new hire.

The program is administered in Washington by the Employment Security Department. It received nearly 49,000 applications for the 2011 credit from more than 2,000 Washington businesses. About two-thirds of the certified workers were food-stamp recipients.

To receive the credit, each new employee must work a minimum of 400 hours during the first year in the new job and earn at least $6,000 in wages.