According to a report at military website Task & Purpose, President Donald Trump’s tax plan upped the tax on survivor benefits given to the widows and children of soldiers killed in the line of duty — creating even more hardship for Gold Star families suffering from the loss of a parent.
Using the story of a military widow who saw her tax burden triple over the last two years, the report details how those in need — particularly families that have suffered the loss of a loved one in service to the country — have suffered even more while the top one percent have benefitted under the GOP’s tax plan.
According to the report, Navy Lt. Cmdr. Landon Jones, was killed in a helicopter crash on Sept. 22, 2013, leaving behind his wife Theresa Jones and two children, now aged 5 and 11.
The report states the family receives “monthly compensation in the form of survivor benefits — one allotment through the Department of Defense is taxable, and another through the Department of Veterans Affairs, which is not taxed.”
According to Theresa Jones who shared her tax returns for the past two years, the portion she pays back to the government has jumped astronomically.
“For the past several years she’s had to pay roughly $1,150 in taxes on her sons’ benefits. This year, it was $5,400,” the reports states, with Jones stating, “My kids are owing the government back money, that the government gave them, because their dad died, and my kids have to pay it back.”
“And every year this comes around and it’s just this reminder of this tragedy, and it’s literally like throwing salt in the wound,” she continued.
According to the military widow, “It was a very hard pill to swallow, that they’re even taxed; that they have to give money back in general, as kids. I’ve been sitting here for four days trying to figure out why it’s so much more.”
“I looked at it and realized this is going to be something that’s going to happen every year so this is going to have to be calculated into the monthly budget now,” she elaborated. “If it’s going to be $400 a month, that’s like a car payment. That’s something that I’m going to have to take into account every year.”
James Clark, of Task & Purpose, explained that the changes are due to a change “under the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, which President Donald Trump signed into law in December 2017.”
“Previously, survivors benefits that were allocated to the children of a fallen service member were taxed at the parent’s rate. Under the new tax code, those benefits are instead treated the same as a trust or estate, which means they can be taxed at a rate as high as 37%, and that threshold is reached faster than it did before,” he explained.
According to another woman, Cheryl Lankford, whose husband U.S. Army Command Sgt. Maj. Jonathan Lankford, Sr. died in Iraq in 2007, she has taken the same tax hit.
“I heard rumors that this year we were gonna be paying a little bit more, especially after the news broke that the taxes have changed and there may be a bit of an increase,” Lankford said in an interview. “I had no idea it would be quite that much money. That was a shocker for me.”
You can go here to read more tales of military families hurt by the GOP tax plan — as well as alternatives they can use to shelter the benefits.