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Contact: Robbie Kenney / (609) 847-3600
September 24, 2020
Testa & Corrado Bill to Protect Military Combat Zone Pay from NJ Taxation Clears Senate

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Bill Exempts $225 Weekly Combat Zone Stipends from the State Income Tax

Combat pay earned by military men and women serving in dangerous regions around the globe would no longer be subject to New Jersey gross income tax under legislation sponsored by Senator Michael Testa and Senator Kristin Corrado and advanced today by the Senate.

Senator Testa and Senator Corrado sponsor legislation exempting combat pay earned by military men and women serving in dangerous regions around the globe from state income tax. (Wikimedia Commons)

“Brave young men and women like Vineland’s own Sgt. Dominick Pilla willingly leave the safety of their homes and the company of loved ones to defend our freedoms,” said Testa (R-1). “When they are assigned to combat zones, with added tension and risk, they receive weekly ‘combat pay’ stipends of an additional $225 in military compensation. For soldiers who reside in state, New Jersey wants a piece of that hazard bonus. It is time to end this despicable money grab by a state that is infamous for high taxes and over-spending.”

Sgt. Pilla was a 21-year-old Army Ranger from Vineland when he made the ultimate sacrifice in service of his country 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.”

“Sgt. Pilla’s death is an example of the sacrifice that every member of the Armed Forces is willing to make for our nation,” said Testa. “Excluding the pay that is earned in combat when soldiers are putting their lives on the line is the very least we can do.”

The bipartisan bill (S-2050/S-2090), also sponsored by Senator Shirley K. Turner, 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.

New Jersey is the only state in the nation that classifies combat pay as gross taxable income.

“As a nation, we already ask enough from our U.S. military members,” said Senator Corrado (R-40). “It is estimated that soldiers serving in combat zones pay as much or more than $400 in additional state taxes. That’s a lot of money for a family making ends meet while a father or mother is deployed in harm’s way.  New Jersey government should be able to do just fine without it. I would be happy to help the Governor identify areas to cut spending that will more than offset the revenue lost from this legislation.”

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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