For avid readers of my newsletter, you may remember that I recently introduced a bill, the Air America Act, which now has 67 bipartisan cosponsors. My bill will correct an inequity suffered by the brave Americans who are former employees of Air America by ensuring they receive the federal retirement benefits and recognition they have earned. Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) introduced a companion version of this bill in the U.S. Senate, which is currently cosponsored by a bipartisan group of 29 Senators.
This issue, that now has bipartisan and bicameral support, was brought to my attention by a resident of Wisconsin's 6th District, Neil Hansen.
In 1964, Neil worked as a pilot for Jimmy Hoffa. After Hoffa was arrested and convicted of bribery, Neil answered a newspaper ad looking for pilots to fly in Southeast Asia. As it turns out, the job was actually to fly covert CIA missions for Air America. Neil carried out over 9,000 flight hours throughout Southeast Asia during the Vietnam War. You can read more about Neil's story by clicking here.
Between 1950 and 1976, a group of approximately 1,000 U.S. citizens worked for Air America, which was portrayed as a privately-owned company carrying out flight operations during the Cold War. Now-declassified documents have revealed that Air America was wholly owned and controlled by the U.S. government – meaning these brave Americans were federal employees under the law at the time they worked.
After coming back to the U.S., Neil said he felt like “We were left abandoned after the end of the war.” Due to the secretive nature of his work and a technicality within the government bureaucracy, he and his fellow pilots were not, and still are not, recognized as former federal employees. Therefore, they are not eligible to receive federal retirement benefits.
Neil is now 83 years old. He and other surviving Air Americans are still seeking recognition for themselves and their deceased colleagues for their service to our country. Though they were not members of the military, Air Americans were federal employees who risked their lives to support our soldiers in Southeast Asia and fight communism. It is not right for the federal government to continue to ignore their service, which is why I am doing all I can in Congress to correct this detrimental oversight.
Telephone Town Hall Meetings
Thanks to everyone in Green Lake, Fond du Lac, and Sheboygan County who joined me this week for my two telephone town hall meetings. Just like an in-person town hall, I gave an update on what I am working on in Washington, what to expect from Congress over the next year, and answered questions from citizens in the 6th District.
I believe that one of the most important parts of my job is keeping you informed and hearing what issues matter most to you. Telephone town hall meetings are one of the best ways I can get your feedback and make sure your voice and our Wisconsin values are being heard in Washington.
Important Tax Information
With tax season is in full swing, I want to provide you with some useful information that was sent to me by my colleagues on the House Committee on Ways and Means.
It is strongly recommended that everyone file their taxes as early as possible using an electronic filing that includes direct deposit information. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the IRS mail processing system is significantly backlogged. Some paper-filed tax returns from last year remain unprocessed. Filing electronically is the best and fastest way to ensure that your tax return is processed, and any refund is sent in a timely fashion.
If I still haven’t received my 2019 tax refund, when will I get it?
Due to IRS backlogs, millions of Americans are still waiting to receive their 2019 tax refunds. If you haven’t received a 2019 refund yet, it will be mailed to you as a paper check. You do not need to take any action. IRS advises that you should not file another 2019 tax return.
If I still haven’t received my 2019 tax refund, can I file my 2020 return?
Yes. The IRS provides the following instruction for people in this situation: To e-file, you will need to enter your adjusted gross income (AGI) from your tax year 2019 tax return. If your 2019 return has not yet been processed, you may enter $0 (zero) as your prior year AGI. If you used the "Non-Filers: Enter Payment Info Here" tool last year to register for an Economic Impact Payment, enter “$1” as your prior year AGI. Click here if you aren’t required to file a tax return.
If I haven’t received my Economic Impact Payment (EIP), will I receive it as part of my tax refund?
If you have not yet received an EIP, and you believe you are entitled to one, you can claim the EIP on your tax return. If you meet the eligibility criteria it will be included in your tax refund. The fastest way to get your refund, and any associated EIP, is to file your taxes electronically.
What is an EIP payment?
EIPs—sometimes called “stimulus checks”—are advanced payments of the Recovery Rebate Credit that were sent to individuals as a way to quickly provide financial relief during the COVID-19 pandemic. Click here for more information, to find out if you are eligible for an EIP, and what to do if you did not receive an EIP that you are entitled to.
What if I only received part of the EIP payment I am eligible for?
Filing your tax return provides you the opportunity to claim the remaining portion of the credit that you are entitled to.
Will my EIP be taxable?
No, EIPs are not taxable as income.
What new provisions in the American Rescue Plan will impact the tax filing season?
1) There will be a third round of EIPs at $1,400 per eligible adult and $1,400 per eligible dependent. Anyone who has already filed their tax return will be sent a check or direct deposit based on the information contained in their 2020 return.
2) Unemployment compensation of $10,200 for people with adjusted gross income of less than $150,000 is not subject to taxation.
3) Excess Obamacare subsidies are automatically forgiven for anyone who underestimated their income in 2020.
If I have already filed my tax return and I received unemployment compensation in 2020, what should I do?
Unless or until the IRS issues further guidance, you should plan to file an amended return if your adjusted gross income (AGI) is less than $160,200 and you received unemployment compensation up to $10,200.
If I already filed my tax return and I paid back an excess Obamacare subsidy, what do I do?
Unless or until the IRS issues further guidance, you should plan to file an amended return.
On March 20, 1854, the Republican Party was formed in the little white schoolhouse in Ripon to oppose slavery and promote the rights of individual citizens. Happy birthday to the GOP!
It was an honor to speak with the Sheboygan County Marine Corps League at the Central Division conference over the weekend!
Last Sunday was World Down Syndrome Day, where we honored all individuals with down syndrome who are vital to our lives and communities.
I was glad to speak with Lakeshore Technical College in Cleveland, WI about how I am working as a member of the House Committee on Education and Labor to help students realize that career and technical education is a great option and will often lead to a high-paying job and less student loan debt than a traditional four-year degree.
My staff and I spoke with three student representatives from Wisconsin's Future Farmers of America and Agriculture Future of America to engage with the brightest young leaders about the future of agriculture.
With bipartisan support from the entire Wisconsin delegation, I introduced a bill to posthumously award Fond du Lac native Lt. Col. James “Maggie” Megellas the Medal of Honor for heroism displayed in WWII during the Battle of the Bulge. Thursday, on Medal of Honor Day, I reaffirmed my assertion that Maggie deserves this distinction.
As your Congressman, I’m here to serve you. If you have any questions please don’t hesitate to reach out to my offices in Fond du Lac and Washington. If you enjoyed this newsletter, be sure to forward it to your family and friends so they can stay informed on what I’m doing in Washington and the 6th District, and let them know that they can subscribe by clicking here.
You can also stay up-to-the-minute by following me on Facebook (Congressman Glenn Grothman), Twitter (@RepGrothman) and Instagram (@RepGlennGrothman).