DesJarlais Bill Blocks Tax on Slain Soldiers

U.S. Rep. Scott DesJarlais expects a vote today on the “Andrew P. Carpenter Tax Act,” inspired by a soldier from Columbia, Tenn., who was killed in Afghanistan. The bill would prohibit the IRS from collecting taxes on forgiven student loans held by veterans whose active-duty injuries led to death.
From the Chattanooga TFP:
The bill is retroactive to Oct. 7, 2001 — the start of the war in Afghanistan. Families who already have paid taxes on such loans would be eligible for a refund, according to DesJarlais’ office.
A freshman congressman seeking re-election, DesJarlais said the bill represents an easy way to fix a baffling tax code issue. It’s the first of DesJarlais’ five bills to get a standalone House vote.
“Committee chairmen, the majority leaders, veterans in Congress — everybody felt this was the right thing to do,” he said.

UPDATE: The bill passed. Here’s the resulting news release:
WASHINGTON, DC – The Andrew P. Carpenter Tax Act, introduced by Representative Scott DesJarlais, M.D., (TN-04), passed the United States House of Representative today with a vote of 400-0.
“I’m incredibly grateful to the many people that played a part in securing passage of this incredibly worthwhile legislation. But most importantly, I want to thank the Carpenters both for bringing this issue to my attention and for raising such an extraordinary young man,” said Representative DesJarlais. “In learning about Andrew throughout this ordeal, I’ve come to know a selfless individual who loved his country. He is truly a hero. Passing the Andrew P. Carpenter Tax Act is the least we can do in repaying the debt that we owe to Lance Corporal Carpenter and his family.”

News release from U.S. Rep. Scott DesJarlais:
WASHINGTON, DC – Representative Scott DesJarlais, M.D. (TN-04) will deliver the following remarks today on the House Floor in support of his legislation, the Andrew P. Carpenter Tax Act:
Mr. Speaker – Before I begin my remarks I want to take a few moments to thank Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy, Majority Leader Eric Cantor, and Ways and Means Chairman Dave Camp for their help in bring this worthwhile piece of legislation to the House floor. In addition, I want to say a special thanks to Congressman Sam Johnson for his work and guidance through the process.
I also want to recognize and thank the family of Lance Corporal Andrew P. Carpenter for bringing this matter to my attention. I am truly humbled to have had the honor of introducing the Andrew P. Carpenter Tax Act.
We all are familiar with the verse in John that says, “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.” On February 19th, 2011, due to wounds suffered while on combat mission in the Helmand province of Afghanistan, Lance Corporal Andrew Carpenter did indeed lay down his life for his friends and country.
A graduate of Columbia Central High School in 2002, Andrew enlisted in the United States Marine Corps in 2007 and was assigned to the 3rd Battalion, 8th Marine Regiment, 2nd Marine Division, 2nd Marine Expeditionary Force, out of Camp Lejeune, N.C. He was serving his second tour in Afghanistan.
Leaving behind a wife, Crissie and a soon to be born son Landon, Andrew gave his life in defense of our nation and the cause of freedom. In a fitting tribute to his and his families sacrifice, the city of Columbia, Tennessee held a memorial service that sent a clear message that his valor would not be forgotten. Unfortunately, the aftermath of this outpouring of support was soon tarnished by the grim hand of the Internal Revenue Service.
As hard as it is to believe Mr. Speaker, the pain and anguish of his parents and wife were compounded by a tax bill from the Internal Revenue Service for over $1,000 due to the fact that an educational loan from a private institution was forgiven. Imagine the horror of having to bury a son, daughter, husband or wife that had paid the ultimate sacrifice only to have the I.R.S. say you haven’t paid enough.
Three years prior, Andrew had taken out a private educational loan. In recognition of their sons sacrifice, after learning that he had been killed in action, the company administering the loan agreed to completely forgive the debt. However, the I.R.S did not. Upon forgiveness of the debt, the family, who had cosigned the loan, received a 1099-C form informing them that the debt discharged would be factored into their gross taxable income for that year.
Not knowing what the tax bill was for, the family paid the tax and then contacted my office and brought this matter to my attention. As a newly elected Congressman this was a rude introduction to just how broken our federal system was.
Mr. Speaker, the legislation before us today attempts to shield America’s families from ever having the I.R.S. add to their loss by callously presenting them a tax bill. The only thing these parents should receive is a flag and the admiration of the American people.
Simply, my bill amends the Internal Revenue Code to exempt private student loan forgiveness from being categorized as gross taxable income for families of veterans who have lost their life while serving on active duty in the United States Armed Forces.
It is important to note that this bill would not make it mandatory for private lenders to forgive education loans. Private loan companies would still have the option of whether or not to forgive a loan.
Having lost their son in Afghanistan, the Carpenter family is comforted by the knowledge that Andrew died a hero. His memory lives on in his son Landon. It is for them and all those who have or may face similar hardships that I urge that the House suspend the rules and pass H.R. 5044.

Leave a Reply