Legislation Would Exempt Trafficking Survivors’ Restitution from Federal Taxes
Washington, D.C. – U.S. Sens. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) and John Cornyn (R-TX) today introduced a bill that would exempt civil damages, restitution, and other monetary awards given to human trafficking survivors from federal income taxes.
The bipartisan Human Trafficking Survivor Tax Relief Act of 2018 would fix a provision in the Internal Revenue Code that considers civil damages awarded to human trafficking victims as taxable income. Wyden said survivors should be able to file their taxes without the additional worry of penalties or fees, and also be able to pursue civil damages from their attackers without fear of tax implications.
“It is intolerable that human trafficking survivors are faced with obstacles when trying to seek justice against their traffickers,” said Wyden, Ranking Member of the Senate Finance Committee. “This legislation ends tax penalties on survivors, which will help them afford the legal costs of punishing individuals who have committed such heinous crimes. I’m proud to be a part of this bipartisan measure and will continue to fight this form of modern-day slavery.”
“Survivors of human trafficking often have to relive their abuses when they pursue justice. This legislation provides relief to survivors without the fear of being penalized or audited,” Cornyn said. “It would also allow survivors who go through civil proceedings to receive the same treatment as those compensated through the criminal justice system. The last thing survivors should expect is to get stuck with a bill from the IRS.”
The bill is supported by End Child Pornography and Trafficking (ECPAT), the National Association to Protect Children, the Coalition Against Trafficking in Women (CATW), Rights4Girls, Shared Hope International, Polaris, and the Alliance to End Slavery and Trafficking (ATEST).