augusta free press news

Luria invites Gold Star family advocate to State of the Union

Elaine LuriaCongresswoman Elaine Luria has invited Virginia Beach constituent Kristen Fenty as her guest to the President’s State of the Union Address on Tuesday.

On May 5, 2006, Kristen Fenty’s husband, Lt. Col. Joe Fenty was killed in action in Afghanistan. Following her husband’s death, Kristen became an active voice against bureaucratic and taxation challenges faced by Gold Star families. One of these injustices is the Widow’s Tax, which prevents Gold Star spouses from receiving full Survivors Benefit Plan (SBP) annuities and Indemnity Compensation (DIC), even if they are eligible for both benefits.

Fenty’s leadership on behalf of Gold Star Families is emblematic of Luria’s Coastal Virginia community. As a member of both the House Armed Services Committee and the House Committee on Veterans Affairs, Luria has worked alongside Kristen to alleviate hardships faced by Gold Star Families.

“I am honored to have Kristen Fenty as my guest during the President’s State of the Union Address,” Luria said. “Kristen has been a fierce advocate for America’s most heroic families, bringing critical challenges that Gold Star families face to national attention. Congress must continue to work to ensure that our most heroic families are treated with the compassion and reverence that they deserve.”

As a 20-year Navy Veteran and the Chair of the Disability and Memorial Affairs (DAMA) Subcommittee, Luria has championed the cause of Gold Star families. Prior to the 2017 tax law’s enactment, most surviving children of fallen servicemembers were taxed between 12% and 15% on Survivor Benefits Plan (SBP) benefits, while some were subject to a 37% taxation rate.

Following the tax law’s enactment, more of these children were subject to the higher tax burdens, with lower income thresholds. Luria introduced the Gold Star Family Tax Relief Act to reclassify survivor benefits as earned income, significantly reducing tax burden. This bill was later incorporated into the SECURE Act and eventually became law as part of an appropriations bill in December.

The final version repealed the section of the 2017 tax law that had changed taxation on benefits passed to children and repealed a provision that increased the Alternative Minimum Tax on unearned income of children, which had harmed some Gold Star families.

augusta free press
augusta free press