FMA Applauds Bill Providing Fairness to Feds in Combat Zones
When America’s brave warriors step into a combat zone, such as Afghanistan or Iraq, their taxes are forgiven on their military pay.
Enlisted personnel, warrant officers, and commissioned warrant officers can exclude active duty pay earned in any month served in a combat zone, as well as imminent danger/hostile fire pay, reenlistment bonuses, and pay for accrued leave. The Federal Managers Association (FMA) applauds and agrees wholeheartedly with this small tax benefit for the men and women of our all-volunteer armed services who make demanding sacrifices on behalf of the country in treacherous areas.
The Combat Zone Tax Exclusion dates back to World War I as a means to lessen the burden of war funding from those fighting the battles. The country felt soldiers fighting the war should not have to pay for the increased taxes to fund it as well. Over time, the benefit became compensation for those military members facing combat risks in wartime theaters, and the benefit is now viewed as an essential part of combat compensation. Federal contractors working in combat zones also receive substantial tax breaks through the foreign earned income tax exclusion. FMA supports this, and believes it is appropriate. But did you know that federal employees, who equip and support the warfighter, and serve alongside the uniformed military aren’t currently guaranteed any kind of tax benefit when serving in these same combat zones? Thousands of civilians serve with members of the armed forces in combat zones as firefighters, depot maintenance and repair workers, and in other support positions on the ground. Reports indicate approximately 5,000 Department of Defense civilians work in combat zones around the world at any given time. Currently, civilians are sometimes provided “post differential” and “danger” pay, but this is not guaranteed. FMA argues these civilian employees earn and deserve similar tax benefits as military personnel receive.
In June 2017, Representatives Rob Wittman (R-VA) and Gerry Connolly (D-VA) introduced the Combat Zone Tax Parity Act (H.R. 2929), prospective bipartisan legislation that would provide fairness to federal employees. FMA is grateful for Messrs. Wittman and Connolly’s consistent leadership on this issue – they introduced similar legislation in 2014 during the 113th Congress – and FMA immediately endorsed H.R. 2929.
In a press release upon introduction of H.R. 2929, Mr. Wittman wrote, “Like military personnel, federal employees serving in combat zones put themselves in harm’s way and leave their families behind, increasing the stress and financial burdens on families.” Mr. Connolly added, “This legislation would extend a temporary tax benefit similar to the one received by service members to the dedicated federal employees who willingly risk their lives for our country in combat zones around the world. This small measure honors their sacrifice and recognizes the sacrifices they and their families make on our behalf.”
FMA was established a year before World War I and has a longstanding history of representing the federal workforce who work shoulder to shoulder with the uniformed military. Our members can attest to Mr. Wittman’s and Mr. Connolly’s eloquent observations about the sacrifices and burdens DOD civilian employees and their families face when serving in dangerous, presidentially-designated combat zones overseas. We urge Speaker Ryan and the 115th Congress to pass H.R. 2929 and provide tax benefits to federal civilian employees in combat zones.
Written by the Federal Managers Association (FMA). To learn more, visit their website: FedManagers.org
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