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Sam Johnson hosts wrongful convictions tax relief act conference

by | Jan 12, 2016 | Latest

WASHINGTON, D.C. – This afternoon U.S. Congressman Sam Johnson (TX-03) hosted a press conference in Washington, D.C. to build public awareness about his Wrongful Convictions Tax Relief Act, including the December 2016 retroactive relief deadline.

The Wrongful Convictions Tax Relief Act, which was signed into law December 18, 2015, allows wrongfully convicted individuals to keep their restitution tax free. It is supported by conservative groups including FreedomWorks and Americans for Tax Reform.

During the press event, Johnson also announced that today he is sending, along with Congressman John Larson (CT-01), a letter to Commissioner John Koskinen to ensure the IRS implements the new law without delay.

“As a 29-year Air Force veteran who spent nearly seven years as a POW in the infamous Hanoi Hilton, I understand what it means to have years of your life robbed from you,” said Johnson. “When I learned that folks who had been wrongfully imprisoned were suffering the additional injustice of having to pay the IRS taxes on their restitution, I wanted to do something about it. What’s so great about the Wrongful Convictions Tax Relief Act is that it is also retroactive – which is a pretty rare thing in the tax world. But that’s where today’s event comes into play. You see, folks only have until December of this year to get their money back from the IRS. That’s why we MUST hold the IRS’s feet to the fire. Our letter to the Commissioner today seeks details about how this agency is going to go about implementing this law. We are also asking for details about the Commissioner’s plans to make sure that wrongfully convicted individuals are aware of the deadline for retroactive relief as soon as possible. His deadline is February 1st, and you can rest assured I’ll be holding him to it.”

The full text of the letter is below:

“Dear Commissioner Koskinen:

“The recently enacted Protecting Americans from Tax Hikes Act of 2015 (Division Q of H.R. 2029) includes our bill, the Wrongful Convictions Tax Relief Act (Section 304 of H.R. 2029), which would prohibit the taxation of civil damages, restitution, or other monetary award provided to those who have been wrongfully imprisoned. This victory is long overdue and much deserved for these individuals. No longer will the wrongfully imprisoned have to suffer the additional injustice of paying taxes on compensation intended to help make them financially whole.

“As important as it was for this bill to become law, it is just as important that the IRS implement the legislation without delay. Of particular importance is the waiver of limitations provision. This provision allows for those who have been wrongfully imprisoned and who ordinarily cannot file for tax refunds due to the expiration of the statute of limitations to have the opportunity to do so. This is only right and fair. However, given that this opportunity is only available for just one year from the date of enactment, we would like the IRS to respond to the following questions by February 1, 2016:

1. How will the IRS implement the waiver of limitations?
2. How long will it take the IRS to implement the waiver of limitations?
3. How will the IRS communicate the waiver of limitations so as to enable all interested and eligible individuals the opportunity to take advantage of this one-time retroactive relief?

“And more generally:

4. How will the IRS communicate the overall change in law?
5. How long will it take the IRS to implement the change in law?

“With the tax filing season fast approaching, we strongly encourage the IRS to expeditiously implement this legislation. Those who have been wrongfully imprisoned should not have to wait a day more than absolutely necessary to benefit. Thank you for your attention to this critical matter.”

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