Stopping the IRS from Targeting Wrongfully Convicted Individuals

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Washington, July 17, 2015 | comments

Washington, D.C. – Yesterday U.S. Congressman Sam Johnson (TX-03) reintroduced the Wrongful Convictions Tax Relief Act (H.R. 3086) – legislation that would prohibit the IRS from taxing compensation awarded to people who have been imprisoned due to a wrongful conviction.  

“Many folks know that I spent nearly seven years of my life as Prisoner of War – those are years away from my family that I can’t get back…and the same can be said for individuals who have been locked up due to a wrongful conviction,” said Johnson.  “While I wish we could return to them the years these innocent individuals lost in imprisonment, Congress can ensure they don’t suffer the additional injustice of the IRS taxing their restitution.  What the IRS is doing is just wrong!  These wrongfully convicted folks – and their families – have already suffered enough.   They are working hard to move forward with their lives and they deserve to do so without obstacle.” 

According to the Innocence Project there have been over 300 DNA exonerations, with 52 in Texas alone.  Texas provides $80,000 per year as well as other benefits for those who have been wrongfully imprisoned.  Most recently, on June 1, Governor Greg Abbott signed into law legislation establishing the Timothy Cole Exoneration Review Commission, which will be charged with coming up with recommendations to prevent future wrongful convictions.  The Commission is named after Timothy Cole who was imprisoned and subsequently died in prison for a crime he did not commit.  

Johnson’s Wrongful Convictions Tax Relief Act is supported by FreedomWorks and Americans for Tax Reform, and both have called on other lawmakers to support the legislation.  Full letters of support can be read by following the links.  Excerpts below:

Americans for Tax Reform: “Closing the recompense tax problem should be at the forefront of all legislators concerned with fair taxation and legal justice. No innocent person should have to spend time in prison only to find a tax bill in the mail for their rightful compensation. I ask that your colleagues in the House and Senate take up this essential legislation.”

FreedomWorks:  “When someone is wrongfully convicted of a crime they didn’t commit, it is both unjust and insulting to then apply taxes to their restitution. I hope you’ll contact your representative and urge him or her to support and co-sponsor the Wrongful Convictions Tax Relief Act, H.R. 3086.”



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