Congressman proposes stimulating military pay

Monday - 3/30/2009, 1:06pm EDT

Gus Bilirakis

When it comes to active duty military personnel, one congressman says if we can't pay them more, let's tax them less.

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By Suzanne Kubota
Senior Internet Editor
FederalNewsRadio.com

In co-sponsoring the Military Personnel Income Tax Exclusion Act (H.R. 1624), Rep. Gus Bilirakis (R-Fla.) tells FederalNewsRadio he's trying to give back to those giving everything to their country. "We've asked so much from our soldiers: enduring incredible hardship, separation from their families, tough economic times... it's very difficult. I think it's the least we can do."

The "least", in this case, is in the form of a tax credit.

What it'll do is it'll exempt the first $16,800 dollars from federal income tax for active military personnel.... It will affect all active military personnel because the first $16,800 will be exempt. I just think it needs to be done. These are tough economic times.

Bilirakis says his office figures the break would give "just about a $2,000 tax break for the E-1 category" which the Congressional Research Service estimates would be a $2.9 Billion dollar total impact after applying the break to all grades of active duty military personnel.

The money, says Bilirakis, would act as a stimulus to the economy "because it's giving our soldiers money to put in their pockets to spend on their families."

"Give it to our heroes, for cryin' out loud," he says. "It's a recruiting tool, it's a retention tool. I think it's a win/win."

So far, Bilirakis has some high powered agreement. Rep. Chris Carney (D-Pa.), Chairman of the Homeland Security's Subcommittee Management, Investigations, and Oversight, joined Bilirakis in sponsoring the bill. He says the bill also has the support of two other co-sponsors and military organizations like the Florida VFW and the Air Force Sergeants.

"I believe by the end of the week, we'll have several co-sponsors and I think there will be a couple of other military organizations that will sign on."

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On the Web:

Conressman Gus Bilirakis - Bilirakis & Carney Introduce Bipartisan Tax Cut for U.S. Troops (press release)

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