A bill that would allow the families of veterans who died while on active duty to avoid paying taxes on forgiven student loan debt passed unanimously in the U.S. House of Representatives on Wednesday.
The Andrew P. Carpenter Tax Act was developed after 27-year-old Andrew Carpenter — a Columbia, Tenn., native — died after being shot while on active duty. The Internal Revenue Service billed the family about $2,000 in taxes on Carpenter's unpaid student loan forgiveness.
Rep. Scott DesJarlais, R-Tenn., introduced the bill, which prohibits the IRS from collecting taxes on forgiven student loans held by veterans whose active-duty injuries led to death.
"I want to thank the Carpenters both for bringing this issue to my attention and for raising such an extraordinary young man," he said. "In learning about Andrew throughout this ordeal, I've come to know a selfless individual who loved his country."
The bill is retroactive to Oct. 7, 2001 — the start of the war in Afghanistan. Families who already have paid taxes on such loans would be eligible for a refund, according to DesJarlais' office.
DesJarlais is running against state Sen. Eric Stewart for re-election this fall. Stewart said he supports the bill, but thinks Congress — and DesJarlais — need to do more for veterans.
"I fully support and encourage Congress to pass the Andrew P. Carpenter Act," said Stewart, a Democrat. "But Congress has done little more than talk about supporting our veterans when they return home from war. They have failed our men and women of uniform on more than one occasion."
The bill still needs to pass the Senate and be signed by President Barack Obama to become law.