HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WHNT) –– A bill to repeal the military widow's tax is on the table.
The bill's sponsor, U.S. Senator Doug Jones, said it has been repeatedly introduced for nearly 20 years but has been defeated each time.
Back in June, Jones said he was blocked in his effort to force a Senate vote on the military widow's tax, despite the measure having 75 co-sponsors. He called it his most frustrating day in Congress.
"Our sworn duty to military widows and spouses, to not be able to get a vote on that is just unconscionable, it's shameful," Jones said in June.
Times change. The bill is now on the brink of final approval.
"With the help of some very dedicated Gold Star widows, a lot of my colleagues, in both the House and the Senate, we were able to get this bill included in the final defense authorization bill," Jones said.
Jones described the widow's tax on Thursday, calling it, "the unfair law that has, for four decades, prevented gold star widows from receiving the full survivor benefits that they are owed by the federal government."
Basically, it's tied to two surviving spouse benefits. Paid-for life insurance benefits have been cut by the amount a widow receives from other dependency and compensation benefits.
"The change can mean an extra $12,000 a year for most of these Gold Star families," Jones said.
Jones said veterans groups and widows worked hard to make the case for the bill.
"It became pretty clear it was time for Congress, who always -- every member of congress, bipartisan members of congress will always -- talk about how much we support our military, how much we support our veterans and all the families, and all their sacrifice," Jones said. "But I think finally, it came dawning on them, they needed to put their money where their mouth is."
The U.S. House approved the defense authorization bill Wednesday. Jones said the Senate will take it up early next week for final approval, then it heads to the President's desk.
Jones said if the repeal is passed, it will be phased in over a three-year period.
(Brian Lawson, WHNT)