As Part of SECURE Act, House Passes Congresswoman Elaine Luria’s Solution to Provide Tax Relief to Gold Star Families

May 23, 2019
Press Release
VIDEO: 20-Year-Navy Veteran Advocates for Heroic Families on House Floor Before Vote

WASHINGTON – In passing the SECURE Act today, the House pushed through a fix first introduced by Congresswoman Elaine Luria (VA-02) that would provide urgent relief to Gold Star Families impacted by the 2017 tax law that caused America’s most heroic families to see drastic tax increases.

“I was proud to introduce the Gold Star Family Tax Relief Act to draw attention to this terrible taxation problem – and fix it,” Congresswoman Luria said. “It’s a triumph for both parties and America that the House got relief for Gold Star Families as part of the legislative package that passed today.”

Today’s development follows this week’s House passage of Congresswoman Luria’s Cost of Living Adjustment Act for America’s veterans.

Relatives of fallen service members receive two forms of compensation to help them cope in the aftermath of their loss. In order to ensure that the family receives all of the benefits they have earned, spouses of the fallen sometimes sign over one of the benefits to their children.

Because the new tax law brought changes to how children’s assets are taxed, many Gold Star Families who formerly 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.

The House’s SECURE Act would repeal the portions of the tax law that have been problematic to Gold Star Families. This results in taxing the income at the child’s parent’s tax rate, rather than at the rate for trusts and estates, thereby significantly reducing the family’s tax burden.

Attracting 155 cosponsors and the endorsement of 20 service, veteran, and survivor organizations, Congresswoman Luria’s Gold Star Family Tax Relief Act first sought the repeal of the relevant provisions in the tax law and provided momentum for today’s result for Gold Star Families.

The SECURE Act also includes other provisions to expand opportunities for Americans to increase their retirement savings.

Ahead of the vote, Congresswoman Luria spoke on the House Floor – VIDEO HERE and transcribed remarks below.

Thank you, Madam Speaker.

We’re all in Congress because we see room for improvement in America – especially for our servicemembers, veterans, and military families.

As a 20-year Navy veteran myself, I know it’s not just the brave men and women who fight for America, but the families who support them every step of the way.

When Gold Star Widows from Virginia Beach contacted me about how their tax bills jumped thousands of dollars as a result of the 2017 tax reform law, I knew I had to do something.

That’s why I took action to introduce the bipartisan Gold Star Tax Relief Act, which fixes the unintended tax hikes that many Gold Star Families experience.

A number of families across our Coastal Virginia district have shared their stories about how this tax law changed their lives.

One woman, the widow of a Navy SEAL killed in Afghanistan, saw the taxes on her son’s benefits rise by $4,000 in 2018. Another by $6,000, another by $2,500.

What this tax bill did to Gold Star Families was wrong, but I have been heartened to see so many of my colleagues join me in a bipartisan effort to right this wrong. As of today we have 155 cosponsors and have received the endorsements from 20 Veterans Service Organizations.

With this momentum, we can fix a problem for so many heroic families and ensure the security of their benefits.

I urge all of my colleagues to vote for the SECURE Act and in doing that fix this tax problem that has impacted so many of our Gold Star Families across the Commonwealth of Virginia and the country.

Congresswoman Elaine Luria represents Virginia’s 2nd Congressional District. She serves on the House Armed Services Committee, where she is the Vice Chair of the Seapower and Projection Forces Subcommittee, and the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs, where she serves as Chair of the Disability Assistance and Memorial Affairs Subcommittee.