WASHINGTON – Sen. John F. Kerry (D-Mass.), Ranking Member of the Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship, today introduced the Small Business Military Reservist Tax Credit Act to assist military reservists who are called up to active duty and the small businesses that employ them.

The legislation would provide a tax credit of up to $12,000 to any small business of 50 or fewer employees whose owner, manager or employee is a reservist who has been called up for active duty. Of that amount, $6,000 can be used to cover any reduction in salary for a reservist called up to active duty and $6,000 may be used to hire a temporary replacement. For small manufacturers with 100 or fewer employees, the bill would provide up to $20,000 in tax credits, with up to $10,000 to cover the salary difference and up to $10,000 to hire a replacement.

“Just today, the Army announced that it will extend the tour of duty for thousands of National Guard and Army Reserve forces,” Kerry said. “This will make it even more difficult for reservists, their families and the small businesses where they work to endure the hardships associated with serving our nation. This tax credit is critical to immediately help the families of reservists while they serve our nation, and to help struggling small business owners keep their small businesses running after the loss of a reservist employee to military service.”

Unlike many big businesses, which can afford to provide supplemental income to cover the salary disparity for military reservists called to service, most small businesses cannot afford to provide this benefit. More than one-third of military reservists and National Guard members face a pay cut when they’re called for active duty.

“It is imperative that we help families of reservists maintain their standard of living while their loved ones serve our nation,” Kerry said. “The President’s inability to work with the international community and win the peace has put an additional strain on our reservists. By minimizing the detrimental effect that service has on their jobs and families, we ensure that our great tradition of citizen soldiers continues.”

Nearly 295,000 reserves have been called up since President Bush issued Executive Order 13223 on Sept. 14, 2001, and currently there are about 181,500 reserves on active duty assisting in the war on terrorism. The United States Chamber of Commerce estimates that 70 percent of military reservists called up for active duty are employed by small- or medium-sized companies.

“We applaud Senator Kerry’s efforts to assist the small business owner,” said retired Army Colonel John O’Shea, Director of Education for the Reserve Officers Association. “The media is constantly showing the important contributions made by citizen-soldiers for the War on Terrorism but we often overlook the other heroes in the fight and that is the small business owner who sacrifices to ensure there is a job available when his reservist employee returns. Senator Kerry’s initiative helps ease that burden placed on the small business owner.”