Lawmakers seek to extend combat-zone tax break to feds

Legislation was introduced in the House and Senate last week that would provide federal civilian employees serving in combat zones with the same tax credit that is available to military service members.

The bills (H.R. 1974 and S. 1166), sponsored by Virginia Republicans Rep. Frank Wolf and Sen. John Warner, aim to provide tax parity to federal civilian employees who serve alongside military personnel in places like Iraq and Afghanistan.

"Now more than ever in our nation's history, we must take action that reflects the contributions both our civilian and military employees are making, in the war on terrorism as well as the daily operations of the federal government in providing the services upon which every American relies," Wolf said in a statement.

Currently, members of the military and federal contractors serving in combat zones are eligible for an income tax exemption on their base pay, up to a certain limit. But federal civilian employees are not. Instead, they are given "hardship pay," which can be up to 25 percent of their salary, but is not guaranteed.

Wolf and Warner introduced the legislation late in the last congressional session, but it failed to make it out of committee. Labor union officials hope the bill will have better chances under the new congressional leadership.

"Approval of this measure would be an important signal to these patriotic and dedicated employees that their service is both recognized and valued," said Colleen Kelley, president of the National Treasury Employees Union.

Wolf and Warner have estimated that there are about 2,000 federal employees working in Iraq and Afghanistan at any given time. "I know there are many other federal employees who are anxious to serve their country and engage in these efforts, but it is a lot to risk," Warner said.

The legislation would provide significant incentives for more federal employees to serve in combat zones, especially as the nation encounters an increasing need for such service in the Middle East, the lawmakers said.

Last year, Warner sponsored legislation that became law under an emergency supplemental bill, extending to all agencies the option of paying an amount equal to one year of salary to the families of civilian employees who die while serving in Iraq and Afghanistan. The law also provides a $10,000 death gratuity. These benefits are similar to ones that were already permitted at the Defense and State departments.

"I have long been a strong supporter of our federal employees as I have been for our military personnel," Warner said. "Our efforts in the war on terrorism can only be successful with a highly skilled and experienced workforce.

Stay up-to-date with federal news alerts and analysis — Sign up for GovExec's email newsletters.
FROM OUR SPONSORS
JOIN THE DISCUSSION
Close [ x ] More from GovExec
 
 

Thank you for subscribing to newsletters from GovExec.com.
We think these reports might interest you:

  • Forecasting Cloud's Future

    Conversations with Federal, State, and Local Technology Leaders on Cloud-Driven Digital Transformation

    Download
  • The Big Data Campaign Trail

    With everyone so focused on security following recent breaches at federal, state and local government and education institutions, there has been little emphasis on the need for better operations. This report breaks down some of the biggest operational challenges in IT management and provides insight into how agencies and leaders can successfully solve some of the biggest lingering government IT issues.

    Download
  • Communicating Innovation in Federal Government

    Federal Government spending on ‘obsolete technology’ continues to increase. Supporting the twin pillars of improved digital service delivery for citizens on the one hand, and the increasingly optimized and flexible working practices for federal employees on the other, are neither easy nor inexpensive tasks. This whitepaper explores how federal agencies can leverage the value of existing agency technology assets while offering IT leaders the ability to implement the kind of employee productivity, citizen service improvements and security demanded by federal oversight.

    Download
  • IT Transformation Trends: Flash Storage as a Strategic IT Asset

    MIT Technology Review: Flash Storage As a Strategic IT Asset For the first time in decades, IT leaders now consider all-flash storage as a strategic IT asset. IT has become a new operating model that enables self-service with high performance, density and resiliency. It also offers the self-service agility of the public cloud combined with the security, performance, and cost-effectiveness of a private cloud. Download this MIT Technology Review paper to learn more about how all-flash storage is transforming the data center.

    Download
  • Ongoing Efforts in Veterans Health Care Modernization

    This report discusses the current state of veterans health care

    Download

When you download a report, your information may be shared with the underwriters of that document.