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Senate Clears Rounds, Coons Stop Tax Penalties on American Hostages Act

WASHINGTON – On Tuesday, the Senate unanimously passed the Stop Tax Penalties on American Hostages Act led by U.S. Senators Mike Rounds (R-S.D.) and Chris Coons (D-Del.). The bipartisan bill would stop the IRS from imposing fines and penalties on American hostages and wrongful detainees for late tax payments while they are held abroad.

“Our bipartisan work over the last few years to provide commonsense relief for Americans held hostage or wrongfully detained has finally cleared the Senate,” said Rounds. “For obvious reasons, any American held hostage abroad should not have the heavy hand of the IRS hunting down and charging penalties on missed federal tax payments. While we will continue our efforts to get hostages back, especially from countries like Russia, China and Venezuela, this legislation will protect Americans from misguided statutory requirements and unnecessary red tape when they return home. I urge my colleagues in the House to pass this bill as quickly as possible.”   

“Coming home from being held hostage or wrongfully detained abroad to find that your government has penalized you for being unable to pay your taxes is a moral outrage. I’m glad that my colleagues agree and that the Stop Tax Penalties on American Hostages Act has been unanimously cleared by the Senate,” said Coons. “I urge my colleagues in the House to pass this important bipartisan legislation and join me in supporting Americans unjustly held abroad.”

“While I don’t believe there was ever any ill intent by the U.S. government to penalize those of us who have been wrongfully detained abroad, there was also no remedy for a challenge just about all of us face upon our return home,” said Jason Rezaian. “I’m heartened that the Senate has chosen to correct an oversight that has affected so many American victims of state-sponsored terror. I hope the House of Representatives follows suit and acts soon to support American survivors of foreign state hostage-taking.”

“The Bring Our Families Home Campaign enthusiastically welcomes the passage of the Stop Tax Penalties on American Hostages Act,” said Harrison Li, Steering Committee Member, the Bring Our Families Home Campaign. “The act will help mitigate one of the innumerable financial challenges that our families must currently unfairly endure while our loved ones remain hostage or wrongfully detained abroad.”

“The James W. Foley Legacy Foundation is forever grateful to Senator Coons and Rounds, and their amazing staff for their leadership and moral courage in passing this much needed “Stop Tax Penalties on American Hostages Act”,” said Diane Foley, Founder and President of the James W. Foley Legacy Foundation.

In addition to Rounds and Coons, the Stop Tax Penalties on American Hostages Act is cosponsored by Senators Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), Thom Tillis (R-N.C.), Ben Cardin (D-Md.), Bill Cassidy (R-La.) and Rick Scott (R-Fla.). By unanimous consent, the bill will now be held in the Senate, since the U.S. Constitution requires that tax bills originate in the House. If the House of Representatives passes an identical bill, the House bill will be deemed to have passed the Senate, and will be sent immediately to the President’s desk for his signature. In the House, this bill (H.R.7791) is cosponsored by Reps. Dina Titus (D-Nev.), Claudia Tenney (R-N.Y.), Donald Beyer (D-Va.), Haley Stevens (D-Mich.) and French Hill (R-Ark.).