The Next Step/WOTC Solutions
The Next Step/WOTC Solutions has over a decade helping the ex-offender find employment. We have recently begun the only nationwide program that starts with the offender in custody and works all the way with him/her through the employment process to find a job, and then assists the employer in getting a $2400 federal tax credit for hiring an ex-offender. There is no charge to the ex-offender or the facility for these services.
WOTC Tax Credit
The federal government allows a tax credit of up to $2400 for the employment of an ex-felon, provided certain conditions are met and the necessary paperwork is accurately and timely filed. About 85% of the eligible employers nationwide do not obtain this credit.
Over 750,000 felons are released each year in the United States. Studies show that the recidivism rate for those who obtain employment within the first six months of their release is nearly half of those that do not. At the current costs of incarcerating these individuals, that translates into a savings of approximately $7 billion dollars annually for the US taxpayer, not including the additional costs to law enforcement, prosecution and the courts.
Over 90% of the applications for the WOTC tax credit submitted by employers on their own are sent back. As part of our service, we completely process these applications and GUARANTEE the tax credit for the employer. We charge the employer a percentage of the tax benefit as our fee.
1. Facilities – We are in the process of compiling the most comprehensive list of transition facilities (halfway houses) nationwide. We currently have over 750 and expect the list to exceed 1000. We are contacting each of these transition facilities to help us help their residents get employment. There is no cost to the facility and only a minimum amount of effort. We ask the facilities to put up our poster, understand our program and discuss it with their residents. We also contact the facilities when we have an employer looking for labor in its geographical area. We will organize the facility’s data on employers (current and past) and supplement it with our data in any way the facility requests in order to make it more useful. We then follow up with the facilities to ensure that their residents are taking advantage of our program. We also have a referral program that provides each resident with a $25.00 bonus for each successful enrollee referred.
2. Enrollment – The ex-offender is encouraged to enroll on line by going to our website www.thenextstep99.com and following the simple process. We also accept telephone enrollments. As part of their enrollment, the ex-offenders are required to get an email address. We provide them with a direct link to yahoo.com and a tutorial on how to go about it.
Once the individual enrolls, they automatically receive a “Welcoming Video” and a “Welcome Email” Their contact information is sent to our contract printing office, where business cards and flyers are printed. The business cards are professionally done, with their contact information. The flyers explain to them how our program works. They are also to give the flyers to prospective employers as one side explains to the employer the advantages of hiring individuals in their position. These are directly mailed by our printshop, which is a sheltered workshop. We not only explain to the employer the financial incentives, but stress the individual’s determination to make positive changes in their life, any prior training or job experience and the fact that they are legal US workers.
We then maintain regular contact with our enrollees to assist them is their job search. We also will call the employer when an enrollee has an interview to stress these factors. In no way are we in competition with Workforce or the many other job assistance programs currently in operation. What we do is on addition to what these services offer. We offer a tool that is supplemental to what is being provided for the ex-offender.
Once the enrollee lands a job, we provide the enrollee with certain incentives to keep the job. At 120 hours (about 3 weeks), we give the enrollee a $25.00 prepaid MasterCard. At 400 hours (about 10 weeks), we give another $35.00 MasterCard. These hours coincide with the thresholds for the employer’s WOTC tax credits and benefit both the employer and the enrollee by encouraging them to stay on the job. Our website also provides the enrollee with tips on obtaining a job and valuable links to assist them in this process.
3. Employer. Our WOTC Solutions website, www.wotcsolutions.com, is dedicated strictly to employers. We are not only constantly increasing our number of job candidates (enrollees), but are also expanding our database of “friendly” employers (those employers willing to hire an ex-felon). If an employer needs a worker, we have a brief questionnaire that employers can complete and we will send them several qualified applicants from our eligible list of nearby enrollees. We are currently negotiating to provide employees to
over 2500 seasonal employers nationwide. Combined with our WOTC tax credit services, employers will not only end up receiving these services at no cost, but the tax credit will put money back in their pockets.
Our primary service to employers is to provide the necessary expertise for them to collect the $2400 federal tax credit. A few states also have similar state tax benefits. Only 15% of eligible employers receive these benefits. Using IRS estimates, it would take an individual employer well over 20 hours to completely understand and finalize this process. Once we begin, we GUARANTEE the employer will receive this federal tax benefit. We involve about 15 minutes of the employer’s time up front, with updates on the payroll status of the worker.
As our business expands, we will have a fully automated system for the employer to provide the necessary information online. Our fee is a percentage of the tax benefit that the employer will receive. In essence, our fee is paid by the government from money that most employers, especially the smaller ones, would not have received otherwise. If an employer is going to hire more than one of our enrollees, we will reduce the fee based upon the total number of employees hired.
4. Overview. We are a nationwide company, both in our services to the ex-offender and the employer. Our number of enrollees will very soon reach 500 and will continue to grow. Our service is completely free to the ex-offender and the facility where they reside. We will continue to increase our database of friendly employers.
In no way can we guarantee that every enrollee in our program will land a job. We offer them a set of free tools that will help them help themselves.