Senator Betty Little of New York at an unrelated hearing.

Assemblyman Billy Jones, a Democrat from Chateaugay, New York (NY), helped introduce a bill at the start of May that would offer a tax credit to employers who help their employees pay off student loan debt. While the idea isn’t new, the tax credit in this bill differs from previous efforts. Bill Jones was the author of the legislation according to the NY Assembly website.

The legislation, A07491, would give employers a tax credit worth up to $10,000 in exchange for helping their workers repay federal and state student loans. It is designed to encourage businesses to help their workforce pay off what is often crippling debt while also giving young graduates an incentive to put down roots in the area.

Many in the North County area see this new legislation as a win-win for both businesses and graduates since it will cut taxes for employers and help local communities retain skilled and capable workers in the face of high levels of student debt.

The bipartisan legislation was introduced by Sen. Betty Little in the state Senate. As mentioned earlier, the main sponsor and author of the bill was Bill Jones. Cosponsors included Assemblymen Ortiz, Titone, Colton, Dickens, Wallace, Crespo, Williams, Rivera, Morinello, Blankenbush, and Hevesi.

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The bill comes on the heels of similar efforts to clear a path towards solving the student debt crisis. A federal bill, the Student Tax Affordability and Relief Act, was introduced to Congress at the beginning of February this year. If successful, it would have offered an exclusion for gross income from employer contributions towards student loan payments.

These legislative efforts are a testament to the growing popularity of employer student loan repayment benefits. According to a survey covered by The Student Loan Report, a majority, 90 percent, of employers recognize student debt as a significant stress factor among employees; furthermore, about 80 percent of employers believe this stress reduced workplace productivity. With that in mind, many employers, at least 70 percent, view this benefit plan as a way to improve workplace moral. Despite resounding support, only 8 percent of companies during 2016 offered the benefit.

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