U.S. lawmakers introduce bill to protect tax credit for retired police officers and firefighters

By police personnel1

WASHINGTON — Retired police officers and firefighters could see more tax relief in their future. A bipartisan bill introduced in Congress this week would make it easier for public safety retirees to access a tax benefit for their health insurance premiums, according to a press release issued Monday by Rep. Abigail Spanberger (D-VA ).

Spanberger, a former police officer, and Rep. Steve Chabot (R-OH) are sponsoring the bill.

“Many public safety officers are retiring earlier than people in other professions due to the unique physical demands and occupational hazards they face on the job,” the statement said. “Unfortunately, when they retire early, many lose access to their employer-sponsored health coverage, but are still years away from being eligible for Medicare.”

The Wally Bunker Health Care Enhancement for Local Public Safety (HELPS) Act would amend an existing provision to make it easier for public safety retirees to take advantage of a tax benefit. According to the release, many retirees struggle to use the benefit because some pension plans don’t pay insurers directly — a current policy requirement to withdraw $3,000 tax-free from a pension plan every year. year. The bill seeks to update and remove this requirement.

The bill is named after Wally Bunker, a 77-year-old retired police lieutenant from the Spanberger District. Bunker was unable to take advantage of the pre-tax benefit due to the direct payment requirement, according to the release.

“Passing this bill would finally level the playing field for all public safety retirees who receive a pension but don’t have the ability to pay premiums directly from the pension fund to health care providers” , Bunker said. “I want to thank Congresswoman Spanberger for her willingness to champion this bill, as well as the bipartisan support of co-sponsoring Congressman Steve Chabot, and the hard work of the Fraternal Order of Police to support this legislation. – which is based on fairness in treating all public security retirees.

The Wally Bunker HELPS Retiree Enhancement Act has been approved by the Fraternal National Order of Police, the statement said.

According to lawmakers, the Wally Bunker HELPS Retirees Improvement Act would enact the following:

  • Ensure that health insurance premiums, whether through the pension system or a third-party system, are tax deductible.

  • Increase the tax credit from $3,000 to $6,000 to account for increased health care premiums.

  • Make sure the allowances are eligible for income exclusion under IRS Section 402(I).

  • Help ease the burden on public pension plans of having to interact and coordinate with numerous insurance companies on behalf of the affected public safety retiree.

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