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Further Relief From Moving Tax Unlikely In 2018

posted November 23, 2018

There is now little chance of legislation being passed this year to provide relief to retiring/separating federal employees or to incoming feds, both of whom are now facing massive tax bills on the moving assistance/allowances they received as DoDEA workers.

Despite this set back, FEA and NEA will continue to work for legislation to change this situation in the future, with the hope that a retroactive fix can be found for those ineligible for relief on their 2018 taxes. This entire tax situation is an unfair burden on civilian employees and DoDEA's lack of candor to its incoming and departing employees about the tax situation speaks volumes about management's present negative attitude towards those who work in its schools in service to military families.

Related to that lack of information, Virginia's two U.S. Senators, Mark Warner and Tim Kaine, acting partially on information they were provided by NEA Government Relations, recently wrote the head of the General Services Administration about the lack of clear information being presented to existing federal employees about tax relief available to them through the Relocation Income Tax Allowance (RITA) and Withholding Tax Allowance (WTA) programs.

In particular, the Senators cited the hardships placed upon DoDEA employees as an example of the needs for such assistance and the lack of information coming from DoDEA as the reason more must be done to inform civilian employees of their options.

The Senators' joint letter read, in part:

"It has come to our attention that federal agencies are not proactively helping federal workers to minimize the difficulty of paying taxes on reimbursed or paid for moving costs, and many federal workers are confused about how this new provision is being implemented. This is especially troubling for federal workers that are likely to have significant moving costs but modest pay, such as our military teachers being sent overseas as part of the Department of Defense Education Activity (DoDEA). These public servants -- voluntarily moving long distances to help educate the children of our military -- cannot afford paying thousands of dollars of taxes up front, only to wait over a year for reimbursement."

We are extremely grateful to Senators Warner and Kaine for championing DoDEA employees and for holding management's feet to the fire when it comes to meeting its obligation to inform its employees of resources available to them. We hope the Senators' actions will prompt DoDEA to quickly provide its employees with better and more useful information on RITA and WTA, including how those programs work and how to apply for them.

You may recall Senators Warner and Kaine were among a bi-partisan group of five Senators who proposed a legislative fix this past summer to the tax situation affecting incoming and departing feds. Unfortunately, due partly to this year's elections and the bitter partisan fighting they engendered, that legislation has not advanced as we had hoped it would.

FEA and NEA will continue to work with the offices of Senators Warner and Kaine, and every other decision maker we can possibly reach, to advocate for changes in this hurtful tax situation. We deeply regret that a solution for retiring/departing and incoming employees has not already been enacted but we will work with the new Congress when it convenes in hope of finding a permanent solution.

To read the full text of the letter from Senators Warner and Kaine to the GSA about the need for DoDEA and other agencies to improve their efforts to keep employees informed, go to this site.