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Bill would give spouses tax credit for cost of transferring career licenses

Apr. 18, 2013 - 05:02PM   |  
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A bi-partisan group of legislators has introduced a bill to give tax credits to military spouses for the costs of renewing or transferring a professional license due to a military change of station move.

The proposal, called the Military Spouses Job Continuity Act, was introduced Thursday in both the House and the Senate, and would amend the tax laws to provide a tax credit of up to $500 when a military family moves across state lines.

It would be designed to help ease the financial burden for families when the spouse has to re-start his or her career after a PCS move.

The tax credit would be equal to the qualified relicensing costs of the spouse, up to the $500 maximum. It would have to be used for transferring a license for the same profession in which the spouse was engaged in the previous state, and the cost would have to be paid or incurred within one year after the reporting date specified on military orders.

“When a military family is asked to move as part of their service to our country, the government should [do] everything possible to make that transition seamless,” said Sen. Bob Casey, D-Penn., who introduced the bill in the Senate, along with Sen. Jerry Moran, R-Kansas, in a joint statement. “This tax credit would reduce one of the burdens military families face when they move. Congress should pass it right away.” An additional 12 senators co-sponsored the bill.

Identical legislation was introduced in the house by Rep. Matt Cartwright, D-Penn., and Rep. Rob Wittman, R-Va. “This bill is a small but important step in our efforts to strengthen our military, our families, our economy and our nation,” Wittman said in the statement.

The top three occupations with the most military spouses in the labor force require licenses or certification: teachers, registered nurses and child-care workers.

States have been addressing the issue, too, to simplify the process for spouses when they move and must transfer professional licenses. To date, 28 states have passed legislation to ease the process, but in most cases spouses have to pay for costs of transferring licenses.

“This federal legislation helps with the financial piece, so the state initiatives and the federal legislation really complement each other,” said Christine Gallagher, deputy director of government relations for the National Military Family Association. “A tax credit would really help reduce the financial burden.”

According to a Feb. 25 White House report, more than 15 percent of military spouses moved across state lines each year from 2007 through 2012, compared with 1.1 percent of civilian spouses.

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