New Jersey's 1st Legislative District

Senator Michael Testa

Senator Michael Testa

Governor Signs Testa Bill Shielding Military Combat Zone Pay from NJ Income Tax

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The State Has Been Taking a Portion of Soldiers’ $225 Weekly Combat Zone Stipends

U.S. military men and women serving in high-danger regions around the globe will no longer be subject to State Income Tax for combat zone pay under a new law signed by the Governor today and sponsored by Senator Michael Testa.

Legislation sponsored by Senator Testa and signed today by Governor Murphy eliminates New Jersey income tax on combat zone pay earned by soldiers in war-torn locations. (Flickr)

“Previous versions of this important bill have languished in the Legislature for 10 years. When I was sworn into the Senate in January, I made this one of my priorities and began advocating for its passing and enactment on behalf of American servicemen and women,” said Testa (R-1). “I am proud that working with colleagues on both sides of the aisle, we are finally reversing the insensitive policy, and I thank the Governor for his support.”

Soldiers deployed to designated combat zones, where tensions and danger are escalated, receive weekly “combat pay” stipends of an additional $225 in military compensation. The bipartisan bill (S-2050/S-2090) signed today excludes from New Jersey taxes military pay for service in a combat zone or for hospitalization as a result of injury while serving in a combat zone.

“For soldiers who reside in New Jersey, the state has wanted a piece of the hazard bonus,” said Testa. “Today, we have ended this despicable money grab by a state that is infamous for high taxes and over-spending.”

Testa explained that the combat death of Sgt. Dominick Pilla, of Vineland, in Somalia in 1993 sparked his interest in the revising policy that made New Jersey the only state in the nation taxing combat pay.

“The death of Sgt. Pilla is an example of the sacrifice that every member of the Armed Forces is willing to make for the United States,” said Testa. “Excluding the pay earned in combat when soldiers are putting their lives on the line is the very least we can do. Eliminating this extra tax bill gives our soldiers one less concern when they are fighting for their lives and for the safety of their fellow warriors.”

Sgt. Pilla was a 21-year-old Army Ranger when he made the ultimate sacrifice during the Battle of Mogadishu, Somalia on Oct. 3, 1993. A support gunner in small convoy assigned to rescue a critically wounded Ranger colleague, Pilla was one of 18 soldiers killed during fighting that would later be memorialized in the cinematic film “Black Hawk Down.”

A combat zone is any area the President of the United States designates by Executive Order as an area in which the U.S. Armed Forces are engaging or have engaged in combat. An area usually becomes a combat zone and ceases to be a combat zone on the dates the President designates by Executive Order. Combat zone pay is an additional payment, added onto their regular salary, given to members of the Armed Forces for serving in combat zones.

Currently, the U.S. has four active combat zones: the Sinai Peninsula; the Afghanistan Area (including Afghanistan, Jordan, Kyrgyzstan, Pakistan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, Djibouti, Yemen, Somalia, and Syria); the Kosovo Area (including Serbia, Montenegro, Albania, Kosovo, the Adriatic Sea, and parts of the Lonian Sea above the 39th parallel); and the Arabian Peninsula Area (including the Persian Gulf, The Red Sea, the Gulf of Oman, parts of the Arabian Sea, the Gulf of Aden, Iraq, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Oman, Bahrain, Qatar, the UAE, Jordan, and Lebanon).

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