More than 133K wounded warriors eligible for tax refunds
PENSACOLA, Fla. (WEAR) —
More than 130,000 veterans were accidentally charged federal taxes on their one-time, lump-sum disability severance payments from 1991 to 2016.
Many veterans said they didn't know they weren't supposed to be charged, but now they're finally being repaid.
Staff Sgt. Dustin Tuller lost both legs after being wounded in an attack in Iraq.
"Back when the war first started it was a chaos," said Tuller.
That is why he believes repayment to veterans like himself is overdue.
"Hopefully it will also trigger may be more that they missed. There is a lot of homeless veterans and a lot of people who are struggling, especially after receiving injuries because these are wounded warriors," Tuller said.
Tom Moore, Senior Staff Attorney with the National Veterans Legal Services Program, said his group was first to find the problem and bring it to the attention of lawmakers.
Moore also said most veterans lost between 25 percent and 28 percent of their total disability severance payments to federal taxes.
"Literally the only way we can get this money back from them is through an act of Congress," Moore explained.
Moore said disability severance payments can be anywhere between $10,000 and $100,000.
A spokesperson for the Department of Defense said they may pay out as much as $78 million.
Congressman Matt Gaetz said it's a big win for those who made the sacrifice.
"For the first time in a generation, we are actually auditing the Department of Defense. Finding out where errors are made and this may just be the beginning for positive results for Northwest Florida," explained Gaetz.
Although Tuller has yet to receive anything from the Department of Defense, he believes he may be among the veterans impacted by this mistake.
"It is always good to be able to take whatever little bit you do get back to help out some, that is always the key to help other veterans," Tuller said.
Veterans who are eligible for repayment will have one year to file a claim for the refund upon receiving notice that they're owed money.
Notices are expected to go out within the next several weeks.