Members of the New York Congress are urging President Biden to stop taxing soldiers serving in terror-ravaged Kenya — including fighters from the Big Apple’s famed “Fighting 69th” Infantry.
Military members are exempt from paying federal income taxes—and New York State or local income taxes—during the time they serve in designated “combat zones.”
Members of the 69th Army Regiment have recently deployed to Somalia, Djibouti and Kenya.
But unlike the other countries, Kenya is not a dangerous combat zone, and American soldiers deployed there pay taxes on duty.
Rep. Nicole Malliotakis (R-NY), representing Staten Island and Brooklyn, sent a letter to Biden and Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin to extend combat tax breaks to soldiers sent to Kenya.
The bipartisan letter was co-signed by Elise Stefanik, Chair of the House Republican Conference, and Representatives Grace Meng (D-NY) of Queens and Claudia Tenney (R-NY), representing Utica and Binghamton.
Lawmakers said they had targeted governance justice for active-duty soldiers stationed in Kenya after seeing an article about the issue in The Post.
“We are writing to express our concern at the lack of parity in the tax rate of New York State National Guard soldiers currently conducting military operations in the Horn of Africa under the name Task Force Wolfhound.
“The task force is made up of National Guard Soldiers from across the great state of New York, with the core of the 1st Battalion, 69th Infantry headquartered in New York City,” the letter from members of Congress dated Dec. 15 said biden
“Task Force Wolfhound operates in the countries of Djibouti, Somalia and Kenya. While both Djibouti and Somalia carry the Department of Defense designation as a combat zone, which assigns the Combat Zone Tax Exemptions (CZTE) to military personnel assigned to those countries, Kenya does not have that designation. This means that soldiers facing the same regional threats as their counterparts would not be eligible.”
Members of the House of Representatives added: “In order for Djibouti and Somalia to be designated as combat zones while Kenya, a nation plagued by terrorist attacks commissioned by the militant group al-Shabaab, does not, it is bringing in New York National Guard soldiers danger and allow them to be taxed on the income they receive while defending American freedom and values.
They noted that the State Department has banned government employees from traveling to parts of Kenya due to concerns about terrorist attacks.
“If the United States can bar our government employees from traveling to those regions because of the dangers of the area, why isn’t the same area recognized as a combat zone for our military personnel?” they said.
As an example of terrorist activity, lawmakers noted that at dawn on January 5, 2020, al-Shabab militants launched a raid on an airstrip used by the US and Kenyan militaries on the Kenyan coast near the border with Somalia, killing one had US soldiers and two American private contractors and “destroyed $71.5 million in US government resources.”
Former Democratic Congressman Max Rose of Staten Island, a war veteran who served in the 69th
Malliotakis defeated rival Rose in the 2020 election and in their rematch last month – but they are on the same page in opposing the tax on soldiers.
Members of the House of Representatives concluded in the letter to Biden: “Having given so much to the United States, American military personnel should not have to pay the United States government for putting them in danger.” We urge your government to officially designate Kenya as a combat zone to ensure our service members are eligible for the CZTE [Combat Zone Tax Exclusions] and the benefits they deserve.”
The White House had no immediate comment.
https://nypost.com/2022/12/16/ny-reps-to-biden-stop-taxing-soldiers-stationed-in-kenya/ Stop taxing the soldiers stationed in Kenya