Several sources of financial assistance are available to help businesses make reasonable accommodations and comply with ADA requirements.
Tax credit for small business
In 1990 Congress established a special tax credit to help smaller employers make accommodations required by the ADA. An eligible small business may take a tax credit for one-half the cost of “eligible access expenditures” of more than $250 but less than $10,250 for the taxable year. An eligible small business is one with gross receipts of $1 million or less for the taxable year, or if that criterion does not apply, one with 30 or fewer full-time employees. Access expenditures that qualify for the tax credit include:
- Removing architectural, communication, physical or transportation barriers to make the business accessible to people with disabilities.
- Providing qualified interpreters or other methods to facilitate communication for people with hearing disabilities.
- Providing qualified readers, taped texts or other methods to make printed materials readable for people with visual disabilities.
- Acquiring and modifying equipment or devices for people with disabilities. To qualify for the tax credit, your accommodations must meet technical standards of the ADA Accessibility Guidelines, where applicable.
Tax deduction for architectural and transportation barrier removal
A business may deduct up to $15,000 per year for expenses in removing specified architectural or transportation barriers. Covered expenses include the costs of replacing barriers such as steps, narrow doors and inaccessible parking spaces and toilet facilities.
Reasonable accommodations for some disabilities may involve acquisition of assistive technologies. These can be simple devices such as larger computer monitors or voice command software. As disabled workers enter the workplace in greater numbers, employers are likely to be asked to provide a broader range of assistive technology.
State education departments are helping more students with disabilities by preparing them for the transition from school to work. These efforts include development and training on the use of technology.
The Assistive Technology Act of 2004 provides grants to states to fund better assistive technology for students with disabilities as well as give them information about what technologies are available to assist them in transitioning from school to work. That’s good news for employers. Students with disabilities who enter the workplace will already know what works for them, making the reasonable accommodations process easier, faster and less financially risky.
Work opportunity credit
The Work Opportunity Credit, which replaced the Targeted Jobs Tax Credit in 1996, applies to newly hired individuals from targeted groups, including those in vocational rehab programs.
Employers can receive a credit of up to 40 percent of the qualified individual’s first-year wages. Each year, Congress must reauthorize the program.
Other sources of funding
State and local vocational rehabilitation agencies and state commissions for the blind can provide financial assistance for equipment and accommodations for their clients.The Veterans Affairs Department also provides financial assistance to disabled veterans for equipment needed to help perform jobs.
Some organizations that serve people with particular types of disabilities also provide financial assistance for the needed accommodations. Other types of assistance may be available in your community.
For technical assistance on accommodations, there are several sources available, many of them at no cost. The ADA Regional Business and Disability Technical Assistance Centers are a major source of information, assistance and referral to specialized local agencies.
Other sources include state and local vocational rehabilitation agencies, independent living centers, the Job Accommodation Network (JAN) (www.janwvu.edu), ABLEDATA (www.abledata.com) and the DOL's Office of Disability Employment Policy (www.dol.gov/odep).
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