Cantwell Announces Military Widow’s Tax Repeal Included in Final Defense Bill

Congress just steps away from repealing law that prevents Gold Star families from receiving full survivor benefits

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Maria Cantwell (D-WA) announced today that bipartisan legislation she cosponsors to repeal the military widow’s tax has been included in the final annual defense bill known as the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). This marks a significant step in the 18-year effort to pass legislation to repeal the military widow’s tax, which penalizes our nation’s Gold Star families by preventing them from receiving the full survivor benefits they deserve. 

“Military families sacrifice so much for our country, and we have a responsibility to stand by them in their time of need,” Senator Cantwell said. “We owe it to our nation’s veterans to fix the current system so families can receive the full benefits they are due.” 

The Military Widow’s Tax Elimination Act would repeal the unfair law that prevents as many as 67,000 surviving military spouses nationwide from receiving their full Department of Defense and Veterans Affairs survivor benefits. Currently, military widows and widowers who qualify for the VA’s Dependency and Indemnity Compensation (DIC) are forced to take a dollar-for-dollar offset from the Survivors Benefits Plan (SBP) benefit, even though their retired spouses elected to pay into the program. 

Cantwell has long supported the effort to repeal the military widow’s tax. For nearly two decades, legislation has repeatedly been introduced in the Senate to roll back the tax, which was enacted in 1972. This year’s bipartisan bill, led by U.S. Senators Doug Jones (D-AL) and Susan Collins (R-ME), has earned a record-high 78 total cosponsors in the Senate. It will now advance to both houses of Congress for final consideration as part of the full NDAA.