WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) announced today that legislation she supported to prevent changes in the 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act from unduly harming Gold Star military families has passed the Senate. Under current law, spouses of deceased service members are eligible to receive two different survivors benefits--the Department of Veterans Affairs' Dependency and Indemnity Compensation and the Department of Defense (DOD) Survivor Benefits Plan. Many spouses choose to sign the DOD benefit over to their children. Previously, children receiving this benefit were taxed at the parent's rate, but President Trump's Tax Cuts and Jobs Act drastically raised the tax on the benefit—up to 37 percent compared with an average of 12 percent to 15 percent prior to the 2017 tax bill. The Gold Star Family Tax Relief Act will correct the mistake in the tax law and bring the unfair tax hike on survivors benefits back down to its previous level for Gold Star military families.
“No one has given more to our country than the families of our fallen heroes,” Klobuchar said. “When I learned about the unacceptable mistake in the 2017 tax law that unduly burdened our Gold Star families, my colleagues and I moved immediately to fix the problem, and today the Senate took a huge step forward in getting this done. Gold Star families have already made the ultimate sacrifice for our country—their surviving family members shouldn’t have to sacrifice more.”
The bill is also led by Senators Bill Cassidy, M.D. (R-LA), Doug Jones (D-AL), and Pat Toomey (R-PA) and has 25 other bipartisan cosponsors.
Full text of the Gold Star Family Tax Relief Act can be found here.
Since coming to the Senate, Klobuchar has worked to make sure that veterans and service members who have defended our freedom and security have the resources they need and deserve. Last month, she sent a letter urging the U.S. Department of the Treasury to assess options to prevent the harms created by this tax code change for Gold Star families. Klobuchar worked to pass the landmark Post-9/11 GI Bill, which provided enhanced tuition and housing benefits to service members seeking to continue their education and smoothly transition into the civilian workforce. She also supported the pivotal Caregivers and Veterans Omnibus Health Services Act, which not only improved support and training for family caregivers – who often carry the largest burden of nursing our wounded warriors back to health – but also strengthened health programs for women and rural veterans.
In 2018, provisions based on Klobuchar and Senator Thom Tillis’ (R-NC) Helping Veterans Exposed to Burn Pits Act were signed into law as part of the Energy and Water, Legislative Branch, and Military Construction and Veterans Affairs Appropriations Act. The bipartisan legislation will create a Center of Excellence in the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) focused on researching the health effects associated with burn pits and treating veterans who become sick after exposure. In March, they reintroduced the Newborn Care Improvement Act, bipartisan legislation that would double the number of days veterans receive care for their newborns from 7 to 14.