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IRS Form 5884 is the form for the work opportunity tax credit. Businesses can file for this tax credit if they employ people from specific groups that have consistently faced barriers to employment like qualified veterans or summer youth employees.
As a small business owner, you might be looking to get any tax credit you can to save as much money as possible. But completing your small business taxes and figuring out which forms to fill out can be a daunting task. One of the many forms that should be on your radar is Form 5884.
Tax Form 5884 is for the work opportunity tax credit (WOTC), which is for companies that hire individuals from groups “who have consistently faced significant barriers to employment,” according to the U.S. Department of Labor. Those groups include ex-felons, summer youth employees, qualified veterans, and several others. The actual form is used to claim the tax credit and can help your business receive a tax break while helping employ people who are traditionally underemployed across the country.
The work opportunity tax credit is only available through December 31, 2019, unless Congress renews it this year. Since the work opportunity tax credit was created in 1996, it’s been renewed 11 times, with the more recent renewal in 2015 under the Protecting Americans from Tax Hikes Act.
Below, we’ll explain how to qualify for the work opportunity tax credit, as well as how to fill out and file Form 5884.
Only business owners who qualify for the work opportunity tax credit will need to file Form 5884. Not sure whether you qualify? Here, we’ve outlined everything you need to know about what the work opportunity tax credit is and how to qualify.
Any business that employs someone from one of the underemployed groups specified by the IRS can apply for the work opportunity tax credit and would need to file Form 5884. Any business can file for it, no matter the size or type of business. As a business owner, you can claim the credit by receiving a certification proving that the employee is part of one of the targeted groups.
To receive this certification, you must first complete and submit Form 8850, pre-screening notice and certification request, upon or before you offer the job to the individual for whom you hope to receive a tax credit. Submitting this form alerts your state workforce agency to certify the individual you’re about to employ as a member of a targeted group. Instructions on how to complete Form 8850 can be found through the IRS.
You’ll need to receive the certification before you file for the tax credit and should submit Form 8850—after it is signed by you and the employee—within 28 days of their start date. In addition to Form 8850, you will also need to fill out ETA Form 9062 or ETA Form 9061 to file a certification request. If, for some reason, you’re not granted the certification, your state workforce agency will provide a reason.
Once you have the certification you will use Form 5884 to claim the credit along with Form 3800 for general business claims. Form 5884 becomes part of IRS Form 3800 for your business’s income tax return. You can use it to claim for “qualified first- and/or second-year wages you paid to or incurred for targeted group employees during the tax year,” according to the IRS.
The amount of the work opportunity tax credit varies, depending on whether you’re claiming a full or partial credit. But you could potentially get anywhere from about $1,500 to $9,000 per employee in tax credits. It also depends on who you hire—businesses get less for hiring students for the summer than they do for hiring veterans for a full-time permanent position.
As you’ll see when you fill out Form 5884, the amount of the credit relies heavily on the hours the employee works during the year or, in the case of summer employees, during the season.
Your business can be eligible for the work opportunity tax credit and file Form 5884 if you hire individuals from one of the following groups of typically underemployed people. The tax is meant to help incentivize businesses to hire people and increase diversity in the workplace while making jobs available to a larger pool of applicants.
A detailed explanation of who can be certified as a member of a targeted group is provided by the IRS, including explanations of each group, such as age ranges, where they live, what programs they might be a part of, personal history, and more. Here is a rundown of who qualifies as a targeted group by the IRS:
It’s also worth noting that besides falling into one of these groups, an employee must also have worked for you for at least 120 hours, cannot be your dependent or related to you, and over 50% of their wages from you must be from working in your trade or business in order for their wages to qualify for the work opportunity tax credit.
In order to be able to complete Form 5884, you’ll need the qualified wages available to you for the employee or employees you’re claiming along with your tax return. The form is fairly self explanatory and brief, but it does require some calculations.
The most involved part of Form 5884 is Section 1, which has three parts that all require some calculations. In Part A you’ll need to take the qualified first-year wages of employees who worked for you at least 120 hours but fewer than 400 hours and multiply that number by 0.25 or 25%. Part B is for wages of employees who worked at least 400 hours; multiply this number by 0.40 or 40%. Lastly, Part C is for second-year wages of employees certified as long-term family assistance recipients; this number is multiplied by 0.50 or 50%.
After calculating parts 1A, 1B, and 1C of Section 1, add them up and enter them for Section 2.
Section 3 has to do with the other work opportunity credits your business gets from forms like the Form 1099-PATR and Form 1041. The full list of the other deductions to input are available from the IRS.
Add lines 2 and 3 for Section 4.
Section 5 should be the amount of money allocated elsewhere to patrons of the cooperative or beneficiaries of the estate or trust. Clarification of those terms is available from the IRS as well.
Subtract line 5 from line 4 from Section 6.
Form 5884 should be filed with your state’s workforce office and you can mail it to them directly–don’t send it to the IRS. You can find exactly where to mail it on the state workforce website for the state where your business operates. This database for the state workforce agencies can help you find the address, phone number, email, and more information about these agencies.
Remember you want to fill out the certification forms as soon as you extend an offer to the employee or employees who fall under the defined target groups so they can be certified, confirming that you qualify for the work opportunity tax credit. When you file your income taxes for your business, you’ll also fill out Form 5884 and file it with your state. Keep records of the forms you submit as you would with all other tax filings.
If you have a small business and are looking to hire, the work opportunity tax credit should be on your radar. Not only will you receive a tax break, but you’ll also employ someone from one of the typically underemployed 10 target groups, as defined by the IRS. The money you save will be great for your bottom line, but you’ll also be making your business a more diverse and inclusive space—a win-win.
If you do qualify for the work opportunity tax credit, be sure to send the appropriate paperwork to your state workforce agency before or at the time of the employee’s hire, so your qualification can be confirmed. Once it’s confirmed, you’ll need to make sure to file Form 5884 when you file your income taxes. If you’re not sure whether you’re taking advantage of all the possible small business tax credits, working with a small business tax advisor can help make sure you’re doing all you can.