Legislation protects families of fallen public safety officers from tax burden

September 22, 2014

WASHINGTON, DC - The Senate recently passed legislation introduced by U.S. Senators Kelly Ayotte (R-NH) and Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) that will ensure that death benefits paid to the families of public safety officers who lose their lives in the line of duty are not subject to federal income tax.

While current law states that federal survivor benefits are not subject to federal taxation, New Hampshire law enforcement personnel have expressed concerns about an ambiguity in the law regarding the tax treatment of similar state-based survivor benefits programs, which has caused some families of fallen public safety officers to experience the burden of determining whether those benefits are taxable income.  Ayotte and Shaheen introduced the Don’t Tax Our Fallen Public Safety Heroes Act (S. 2912) in response to those concerns.  The legislation would clarify that both federal and state death benefits for public safety officers should be treated the same and are exempt from federal income tax.

“New Hampshire’s public safety officers put their lives on the line every day to keep us safe, and sadly, our state has endured painful losses in recent months where law enforcement officers have been tragically killed in the line of duty,” said Senator Ayotte. “The families of our fallen public safety officers – police and fire – should not be saddled with an unfair tax burden in the wake of a devastating loss, and our bill will clear up current ambiguity in the law when it comes to reporting these benefits.”

“Every day, New Hampshire’s public safety officers display unparalleled commitment to community that is integral to keeping our towns, cities and families safe,” said Senator Shaheen. “We owe the families of our fallen public safety officers the same kind of commitment that we will look after them and not impose an unfair tax burden when a loved one is tragically lost in the line of duty.”

“This is the right thing to do for the families of New Hampshire’s fallen public safety officers,” said Enfield Police Chief Dick Crate, president of the New Hampshire Association of Chiefs of Police. “The New Hampshire Association of Chiefs of Police supports this bill, which clarifies current law and ensures that families who have tragically lost loved ones will not face an added burden.”

The legislation is supported by the New Hampshire Association of Chiefs of Police, New Hampshire Association of Sheriffs, New Hampshire Association of Fire Chiefs, National Association of Police Organizations, National Fraternal Order of Police, and the Sergeants Benevolent Association of the NYPD.