- The Washington Times - Thursday, January 24, 2002

President Bush yesterday signed a law granting two-year tax exemptions for families of victims killed in terrorist attacks.
"As we wage the war on terrorism abroad, we will also comfort families deeply hurt by terrorism here at home," Mr. Bush told somber relatives at a White House bill-signing event yesterday.
"We're joined today by families who have lost loved ones in the great acts of evil. As you draw on faith and personal strength to cope with your grief, I hope you'll also find comfort in the knowledge that your nation stands with you and prays for you. We mourn those whom we've lost, and we face the future together," the president said.
The Victims of Terrorism Tax Relief Act applies to families of those killed by terrorists on September 11 and victims of the anthrax attacks in the weeks that followed. Families of victims killed in the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing of a federal building also are eligible.
Under the law, the federal government will waive income-tax liability for terrorism victims for the year of the attack. Their families also can receive reimbursement for the previous year's income-tax payment.
The law also exempts payments by charities to victims' families and employer death benefits from federal taxes, and it reduces liability for federal and state estate taxes.
The measure guarantees a minimum benefit of $10,000 per family, offering a check to those who did not pay taxes. And it shields the first $8.5 million of a victim's estate from the federal estate tax, and also shields the first $3 million of the estate from state estate taxes a provision that also applies to the families of soldiers killed in the war in Afghanistan.
"This is a small gesture compared to the overwhelming generosity of the American people in times of tragedy, yet this will help to extend that generosity," Mr. Bush said.
The September 11 hijackings of four planes resulted in the deaths of more than 3,000 people when two planes slammed into the World Trade Center, one hit the Pentagon and one crashed in a field in Pennsylvania. Five persons also died in an anthrax outbreak spread by contaminated letters.
The 1995 bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City killed 168 persons. Families of victims of the attack can file for reimbursement.
"Many families lost their primary wage earners in the attack on the Murrah Federal Building, in the attacks of September the 11th and in the anthrax attacks after September the 11th. This financial strain deepens the emotional and psychological impact of the initial tragedies," Mr. Bush said.
"The Victims of Terrorism Tax Relief Act is an important example of our national unity and resolve, and it's my honor to sign it today," the president said.

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