Disabled Veterans Tax needs axing

Published 12:00 am Thursday, September 25, 2003

Tribune editorial staff

Visit any town in America today and you are sure to see signs, flags and banners supporting the nation's troops.

While these men and women fighting for our country deserve and need our encouragement, so do those who served America in the past.

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According to a report released this week by U.S. Rep. Ted Strickland, the Disabled Veterans Tax is costing

veterans in Ohio alone $44.6 million.

The tax affects former members of the armed service

who retire with 20 or more years of service and are injured or become chronically ill as a result of their military service. Under the law - passed in 1891 -

veterans are forced to forfeit their military retirement pay,dollar for dollar, if they receive disability funds from the Veterans Administration.

In essence, veterans must pay for their own disability with their hard-earned military retirement. This is an injustice. No other federal employee is forced to pay for a disability that happened on the job with his or her retirement check.

Many people - including lawmakers

- recognize the inequity in this practice. Strickland, who serves on the House Committee on Veterans Affairs, is co-sponsoring legislation that would repeal the Disabled Veterans Tax. Already, the bill has 366 House sponsors, but has not been placed on the floor for a vote due to President Bush's threat to veto the legislation. It is estimated by the Congressional Budget Office that redressing the retirees’ grievance would cost the Treasury between $3 billion and $5 billion a year.

Regardless of whether or not it is a budget buster, this tax needs to be repealed. Many of our veterans - particularly those from

World War II and the Korean War - are aging and deserve what they earned for serving our country. It is just not fair.

Military retirees should not have to fund their own disability compensation - period. We agree with Strickland: "it's long past time to put an end to" the Disabled Veterans Tax.