Native American Veterans Deserve Equal Treatment
I am just a Native American retired army veteran who has a story to tell. It concerns the taxes that most states deducted from the military pay of Indian Veterans. The story is not new but very few know of it. All these veterans deserve this money be returned.
The SSCRA of 1940 was a federal law put in place to protect all servicemen and their property from unfair and shady mistreatment while they wee away from their homes serving in the military.
A section of this act specifically prohibited states from imposing an income tax on the military wages of Native American Indian veterans if these veterans claimed Indian Lands as there homes when they joined up. Everyone knows that if Indians work and live on the reservations or tribal trust lands that they do not pay state and local taxes. The SSCRA states that Tribal veterans will be taxed as if they were still on tribal trust lands.
Even though this federal law was enacted in 1940 our relatives who served in the armed forces were illegally taxed by the state their tribe was located in. The SSCRA mentioned double taxation but DD 2058 ( state of legal residence certificate to determine the correct state of legal residence for purposes of withholding state income tax from military pay) was not available until 1977. This means that states were not only taxing military pay but double taxing in some cases. State governments run off of income taxes.
If a veteran happened to be stationed and earning wages in more than one state in a tax period they were undoubtedly taxed by all states involved. DD form 2058 was invented in 1977 to stop this illegal double taxation however their was no mention of the illegal taxation that states were deducting from the pay of Native American Indian veterans.
These tribal veterans by law were exempt from any state income tax because they did not lose their tribal trust taxation status simply by leaving the tribal lands to comply with military orders. A separate form DD 2058-2(specifically for Native Americans), was not introduced by the department of defense until July of 2002. This form when signed exempted Indian veterans from state income taxes .
Native American Veterans were always exempt from state income taxes through countless treaties with the United States government and the SSCRA of 1940.
A bill HR 5275 ,The Native American veteran Pay restoration Act ,was introduced into the 108th congress to correct this mistreatment and repay these veterans but it went nowhere and was never heard of again.
Simply by introducing this bill the government admits to this broken promise and illegal act .Thousands of veterans deserve that this money be returned.
The stimulus bill resolves a six-decade dispute over their U.S. service
By Amanda Ruggeri
Posted March 13, 2009
Tucked between allocations of $150 million to states for nursing home construction and $90 million for passport agencies, one provision in the 1,079-page federal stimulus bill has nothing to do with creating jobs—but it does settle a 63-year-old battle.
The provision compensates Filipino veterans of World War II, survivors now in their 80s and 90s, with lump-sum payments
of $15,000 if they are U.S. citizens or $9,000 if they are not. The cost, $198 million, doesn’t add to the bill’s total cost because the funds were appropriated last year. Still, some critics complain that this doesn’t belong in a stimulus bill and that the funds should go elsewhere. One better use of the money could have been for underfunded veterans’ programs, says Dennis Cullinan, legislative director of the Veterans of Foreign Wars.
The issue dates back to 1941, when the Philippines was under U.S. control. President Roosevelt conscripted members of the Philippine Army into the U.S. military to fight Japan. By the end of the war, as many as 430,000 Filipinos had fought under Gen. Douglas MacArthur, including 60,000 in the 80,000-soldier Bataan death march. In 1942, Congress recognized Filipinos’ service by promising them benefits equal to those of U.S. veterans. But that was reversed by the 1946 Rescission Act—some say for financial reasons, others say because of racism. “We made a promise, and then we did not carry it through,” says Democratic Rep. Bob Filner, who has fought for the compensation for 17 years.
One sentence in the 1946 act especially smarted: the claim that their service wasn’t “active.” Tell that to Amadeo Urbano. “We were so active in harassing these Japanese,” says the former guerrilla, now 85 and living in Arlington, Va. “But when victory was won, we were forgotten.”
Bills to provide full benefits have been introduced since 1989. All were defeated, including one last year. The one “small victory,” says Ben de Guzman of the National Alliance for Filipino Veterans Equity, was that Congress appropriated the $198 million to be released at a later date. Some opponents objected to paying nonnationals while programs for American veterans went underfunded.
Some cited concerns that the measure could open the door to other claims. Advocates counter that, of the soldiers of 67 nationalities who fought for the U.S. military in World War II, all but the Filipinos have received equitable benefits. Democratic Sen. Daniel Inouye, who sponsored the stimulus provision authorizing the funds’ release, doesn’t dispute one of the critics’ points. “This is not a stimulus proposal. It does not create jobs,” he said on the floor. “But the honor of the United States is what is involved.”
Some sacrifices were made to win passage. One was a clause saying acceptance of the payment constitutes “a complete release of any claim against the United States.” Another was disbursement as a lump sum, which totals far less than American-born counterparts received in monthly benefits over their lifetimes.
But more important, say many veterans, is at long last setting the historical record straight. The provision declares that their service time “is hereby recognized as active military service.” Says Urbano, “What is most important is our recognition—we are now considered veterans of the Second World War.”