November 17, 2023

Young, Hassan Lead Bipartisan Bill to Strengthen Workforce Training, Employee Retention Tools

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senators Todd Young (R-Ind.) and Maggie Hassan (D-N.H.) reintroduced the Upskilling and Retraining Assistance Act, bipartisan legislation to strengthen workforce development and ensure job providers have the necessary tools to hire and retrain workers. This legislation would increase the amount of tax-free educational assistance employees can receive from their employers and would cover expenses for education-relation tools, technology, and equipment.

“With artificial intelligence influencing every sector of the economy, it’s crucial that our workforce is prepared not just for the jobs of today, but for the AI-driven jobs of tomorrow,” said Senator Young. “Our bipartisan bill would boost an important tax provision to improve workforce development opportunities and provide job creators with the necessary tools to attract and retain a workforce skilled in AI and other emerging technologies. This legislation is a win-win for both workers and employers in the digital era.”

“New Hampshire is one of many states experiencing workforce challenges, including employee recruitment and retention. Investing in upskilling and retraining helps businesses and employees alike by increasing the number of qualified workers and opening up better-paying opportunities for these workers,” said Senator Hassan.

The rapid pace of AI and other technological advancements underscores the importance of upskilling and training for workers across various sectors. Many businesses currently offer educational and training programs to support their workforce in adapting to these changes. However, the current tax code only allows employers to cover up to $5,250 in educational programs for their workers before workers are required to pay taxes on these benefits. This current limit, which has not been changed since 1986, is far below the cost of most higher education programs and does not cover the costs of the tools and technology required to complete educational programs.

The Upskilling and Retraining Assistance Act would update the tax code by expanding the tax exclusion from $5,250 to $12,000 for the next two years. It would also expand the tax exclusion to include the cost of education-related tools and technology, including hand tools, computers and software, internet access, licensure fees, and other items deemed necessary to complete the educational programs.

In addition to Senators Young and Hassan, Senators Tim Scott (R-S.C.) and Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nev.) were also original cosponsors.

Full legislative text can be found here.