HEROES EARNINGS ASSISTANCE AND RELIEF TAX ACT OF 2008 -- (House of Representatives - May 20, 2008)
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Mr. KIND. Mr. Speaker, I rise today in strong support of H.R. 6081, the Heroes Earnings Assistance and Relief Tax (HEART) Act of 2008. This bill provides a number of much needed and deserved tax benefits to members of the military, their families, and veterans. Specifically, I am proud that the Qualified Veterans' Mortgage Bonds (QVMB) program, which impacts my home State of Wisconsin, was renewed and reformed so that the dream of home ownership will continue to be a reality for thousands of veterans.
Under the HEART Act, the QVMB program will be expanded to allow $100 million annually in tax exempt bonding for the Wisconsin Department of Veterans Affairs (WDVA) State veterans home loan program--enough funding to aid about 600 State veterans in obtaining low interest rate home loans. This program is more important now than ever before with the ongoing credit crisis in this country, and I am proud we were able to expand it. In Wisconsin alone, the WDVA has made over 54,000 home loans to veterans through this program.
Other important provisions in this bill include allowing combat pay for troops to count as earned income for the Earned Income Tax Credit and making permanent the Internal Revenue Code provision that allows active duty reservists to make penalty-free withdrawals from their retirement plans.
Our military service men and women have sacrificed a great deal to protect the freedoms that we so deeply cherish in this country. Their sacrifices and extended tours of duty in Iraq and Afghanistan, however, have placed greater economic hardships on their families here at home. The bill before us today will help alleviate some of those hardships by giving military families much needed and deserved tax relief and making permanent some of the temporary provisions that Congress has previously enacted.
The HEART Act is one simple but significant way we can thank our troops for their service to our country. I thank Chairman Rangel and Ranking Member McCrery for their bipartisan leadership on this legislation, and I urge my colleagues to support our men and women in the military by passing this legislation.
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