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Mr. DesJARLAIS. Mr. Speaker, before I begin my remarks, I want to take a few moments to thank Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy, Majority Leader Eric Cantor, and Ways and Means Chairman DAVID CAMP for their help in bringing this worthwhile piece of legislation to the House floor. In addition, I want to say a special thanks to Congressman Sam Johnson for his work and guidance through the process.
I also want to recognize and thank the family of Lance Corporal Andrew P. Carpenter for bringing this matter to my attention. I am truly humbled to have had the honor of introducing the Andrew P. Carpenter Tax Act.
We are all familiar with the verse in John that says: ``Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.'' On February 19, 2011, due to wounds suffered while on a combat mission in the Helmand province of Afghanistan, Lance Corporal Andrew Carpenter did indeed lay down his life for his friends and country.
A graduate of Columbia Central High School in 2002, Andrew enlisted in the United States Marine Corps in 2007 and was assigned to the 3rd Battalion, 8th Marine Regiment, 2nd Marine Division, 2nd Marine Expeditionary Force out of Camp Lejeune, North Carolina. He was serving his second tour in Afghanistan.
Leaving behind a wife, Crissie, and soon to be born son, Landon, Andrew gave his life in defense of our Nation and the cause of freedom. In a fitting tribute to his and his family's sacrifice, the city of Columbia, Tennessee, held a memorial service that sent a clear message that his valor would not be forgotten. Unfortunately, the aftermath of this outpouring of support was soon tarnished by the grim hand of the Internal Revenue Service. As hard as it is to believe, Mr. Speaker, the pain and anguish of his parents and wife were compounded by a tax bill from the Internal Revenue Service for over $1,000 due to the fact that an educational loan from a private institution was forgiven. Imagine the dismay of having to bury a son, daughter, husband, or wife that had paid the ultimate sacrifice only to have the IRS say you haven't paid enough.
Three years prior, Andrew had taken out a private educational loan. After
learning that Andrew had been killed in action, the company administering the loan agreed to completely forgive the debt. However, the IRS did not. Upon forgiveness of the debt, the family, who had cosigned the loan, received a 1099C form informing them that the debt discharged would be factored into their gross taxable income for that year. Not knowing what the tax bill was for, the family paid the tax and then contacted my office and brought this matter to my attention. As a newly elected Congressman, this was a rude introduction to just how broken our Federal system was.
Mr. Speaker, the legislation before us today attempts to shield American families from ever having the IRS add to their loss by callously presenting them with a tax bill. Simply, my bill amends the Internal Revenue Code to exempt private student loan forgiveness from being categorized as gross taxable income for families of veterans who have lost their lives while serving in active duty in the United States Armed Forces. It is important to note that this bill would not make it mandatory for private lenders to forgive educational loans. Private loan companies would still have the option of whether or not to forgive a loan.
Having lost their son in Afghanistan, the Carpenter family is comforted by the knowledge that Andrew died a hero. His memory lives on in his son, Landon. It is for them and all those who may have or may face similar hardships that I urge that the House suspend the rules and pass H.R. 5044.
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