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Titus Introduces Legislation to Protect Hostages and Wrongful Detainees from Tax Penalties

Washington, DC – Today Congresswoman Dina Titus (D-NV) introduced the Stop Tax Penalties on American Hostages Act, legislation that would prevent U.S. citizens who have been taken hostage or wrongfully detained abroad from incurring penalties for late tax payments while they were held. Representatives Haley Stevens (D-MI), French Hill (R-AR), Don Beyer (D-VA), and Claudia Tenney (R-NY) joined Rep. Titus as cosponsors of the legislation which has been introduced in the Senate by Senators Chris Coons (D-DE) and Mike Rounds (R-SD).

“It goes without saying that no one who has endured wrongful detention or been taken hostage abroad should face the additional trial of navigating onerous tax burdens they incurred by no fault of their own,” said Rep. Titus. “This commonsense bipartisan legislation will eliminate that unthinkable possibility by cutting red tape in our tax code and codifying a critical support mechanism for wrongful detainees, hostages, and their families here in the United States.”

“Coming home after being held hostage or wrongfully detained abroad, only to find that your own government is penalizing you for being unable to pay your taxes while imprisoned, sounds beyond belief – but it’s a reality for many returning Americans. As soon as I heard of this issue, I became determined to address it through bipartisan, commonsense legislation,” said Senator Coons. “The Stop Tax Penalties on American Hostages Act updates our tax code to ensure that wrongfully detained Americans, American hostages, and their families face one less obstacle as they return home. I will continue my efforts to bring every last wrongfully detained American and American hostage home, and I hope my colleagues will join me in fixing this shameful flaw in the tax code.”

“After surviving the nightmare of being wrongfully detained in a foreign country, Americans who return home should face as few bureaucratic obstacles as possible in their effort to regain a sense of normalcy. This flaw in our tax code is a stain on our hostage recovery procedure. Our bill is a logical fix to a problem with devastating impacts on Americans who have already had their lives and livelihoods stolen,” said Rep. Stevens, Co-Chair of the Congressional Task Force on American Hostages and Americans Wrongfully Detained Abroad.

“This legislation corrects a major gap in law that punishes U.S. nationals who are wrongfully or illegally held abroad by welcoming them home with penalties and fines from the IRS. After suffering an unfathomable experience as a detainee, the last thing these Americans should receive is a notice from their own government that they have a fine because of missing taxes under circumstances beyond their control,” said Rep. Hill, Co-Chair of the Congressional Task Force on American Hostages and Americans Wrongfully Detained Abroad.

“We thank Congresswoman Titus for her leadership on the ‘Stop Tax Penalties on American Hostages Act’ to relieve returned US nationals from IRS penalties during their captivity abroad,” said Diane Foley, President/Founder of the James W. Foley Legacy Foundation.

Bring Our Families Home Steering Committee’s Sarah Denman Blake, the sister of Luke Denman, an American wrongfully detained in Venezuela, said: "The BOFH campaign is pleased to see the proposed bill introduced by Rep. Titus to stop tax penalties on hostages. This is a positive step forward in providing some support for hostages who have returned home. We continue to call upon President Biden and his Administration to use all tools to urgently bring all American hostages and wrongful detainees - our loved ones - home before it's too late.”

The legislation’s full text can be found here.