Veterans Call to Remove Provisions of Tax Reform Bills That Will Hurt Veteran Employment and Education
NEW YORK, NY (December 1, 2017) — Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA), the leading Post-9/11 veterans organization representing more than 400,000 members, raised concerns today that two proposals within the current tax reform bills on Capitol Hill will hurt veterans. One proposal would remove the Work Opportunity Tax Credit, which incentivizes employers to hire veterans. The other proposal removes the student loan interest tax deduction, which allows individuals to deduct interest on student loans that they took out while pursuing their studies. These proposals, if passed, would undoubtedly hurt veterans at a moment when our nation must be investing in veterans and ensuring that any proposed changes to our tax code help, not hurt, veterans. While the tax bill may be a partisan issue, veterans employment and education should not.
The Work Opportunity Tax Credit has been critical in decreasing veterans unemployment by incentivizing employers to hire veterans. Partially due to this tax credit, the unemployment rate for veterans has gone from being shamefully high to being lower than the national average. As of October 2017, the unemployment rate for post- 9/11 veterans was 3.6%, compared to 2.7% for all veterans and a 4.1% national average. Removing the Work Opportunity Tax Credit could reverse this positive trend and harm veterans seeking employment.
The proposed removal of the student loan interest tax deduction within the House bill will also hurt veterans. While many post-9/11 veterans have used the GI Bill to obtain a college education, it does not always cover all the expenses that veterans incur while they pursue their education. Many have had to take out student loans to fill in gaps in funding, and as a result have accumulated their own fair share of student loan debt. In IAVA’s latest annual member survey 46% of respondents stated that they have taken out student loans to fill in financial gaps related to their education.
If anything, these types of tax relief should be expanded to further benefit our nation’s veterans. In addition to current tax policies that benefits veterans, IAVA has long advocated for other proposals that work to empower veterans and their families. Examples of some of these proposals, included in IAVA’s Policy Agenda, include: 1) Providing tax credits to patriotic employers who pay the difference between a Reserve or National Guard member’s civilian salaries and military wages when they are called to active duty, 2) Allowing taxpayers to designate a portion of their income tax payment to provide assistance to homeless veterans, and 3) Creating a tax credit for individual veterans who, within 10 years of separation from service, complete skills training beyond what their education benefits cover, among other tax proposals.
IAVA asks that veterans be given consideration in these debates, and that they be the safeguarded from proposals that would cause them financial hardship.