Posted on October 19, 2011

SF Plan Would Offer Tax Break for Hiring Felons

Rachel Gordon, San Francisco Chronicle, October 18, 2011

San Francisco businesses that hire people with felony convictions would get a tax break, under legislation expected to be introduced today.

“Ex-felons are among the most challenged populations in getting work,” said Supervisor Ross Mirkarimi, who is crafting the plan.


The goal is to shave about $10,000 off a business’ companywide payroll tax burden for every new convict it hires full time. The tax relief for companies hiring part-time employees would be less.


The legislation comes as California is beginning a major overhaul of its criminal justice system, known as realignment, in which tens of thousands of offenders will be diverted from state prisons to local jails and probation programs. {snip}

Studies have shown that ex-offenders who find jobs after release are less likely to end up back behind bars. By some estimates, the recidivism rate is cut in half for former inmates who are employed within six months upon release compared with those who remain jobless.


The average cost to incarcerate an inmate in county jail is $47,450, according to the San Francisco Sheriff’s Department, which runs the county’s six jails. The expense is about the same in state penitentiary, but the fewer inmates incarcerated the less cost to the taxpayer.

The idea to offer employers tax breaks to hire ex-offenders is not new. The federal government offers tax credits for companies that hire felons and other targeted groups, including long-term welfare recipients and disabled veterans.

The states of Illinois, Iowa and Maryland also have similar programs in place for ex-felons.