Congress fails to provide fix for Gold Star family 'widow's tax' just in time for Memorial Day

Veterans Benefits

President Trump recognizes Gold Star families on Memorial Day, 2018.

(U.S. Army/Sgt. Amber Smith)

STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. -- Congress fell short ahead of Memorial Day weekend, failing to pass legislation that would provide tax relief for the families of military personnel killed during their service.

Senators unanimously approved a version of the bipartisan Gold Star Family Tax Relief Act Tuesday sending it back to the House of Representatives, where it was tied to a retirement savings bill as an amendment, and passed Thursday.

When it got back to the Senate, the larger piece of legislation failed to pass and make its way to the President Trump's desk.


CNN identified Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) as the lone member of the upper chamber of Congress who stopped a unanimous consent vote, because the larger bill did not provide for an expansion of a college savings plan to homeschooling expenses.

Had the Democrat-controlled House of Representatives not tied their version of the Gold Star Family Tax Relief Act to the larger bill, it would've passed Congress, because of its identical language to the Senate version approved Tuesday.

Congress introduced the Gold Star Family Tax Act in early May following lawmakers realizing the 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act led to an increase in taxes for those families.

According to the Office of Rep. Max Rose, relatives of fallen service members receive two forms of compensation to help them cope, with spouses of the fallen often signing over one form to their children to ensure more of the benefit is received.

Due to changes in the way children's assets are taxed, families that were obligated to pay 12 to 15 percent in taxes on such income saw their tax rate jump to 37 percent, according to the Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors.

"As we remember all of our fallen heroes this Memorial Day weekend, it's critical that we also honor all the loved ones left behind," Rose, an Army veteran, said.

"So when the ultimate sacrifice is paid, making sure Gold Star Families receive the care and benefits they deserve without egregious tax hikes and headaches isn't only commonsense, it's the right thing to do," Rose stated.

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©2019 Staten Island Advance, N.Y. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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