Inspired by Local Korean War Veteran, Rep. Katko Introduces Bipartisan Legislation to Restore Tax Benefit for Veterans, Encourage Careers in Aviation for Returning Servicemembers

October 6, 2020
Press Release

SYRACUSE, NY — U.S. Rep. John Katko (R, NY-24) today announced the introduction of the Promoting Careers in Aviation for America’s Veterans Act of 2020. Inspired by William Becker, a Baldwinsville resident and Korean War Veteran, this bipartisan legislation would provide relief to veterans who were retroactively denied tax benefits and forced to pay back taxes as a result of changing guidance from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). Rep. Katko was joined by U.S. Rep. Anthony Brindisi (D, NY-22) in introducing this measure, which also includes important provisions to increase the accessibility of aviation careers for Central New York veterans.

After leaving the U.S. Air Force, William Becker worked as an airline pilot and enrolled in flight training classes between 1976 and 1977. Mr. Becker and other veterans were able to claim a tax deduction for these expenses, however, the IRS later limited this deduction and retroactively assessed back taxes and interest against these individuals. Rep. Katko’s legislation would restore the deductibility of flight training expenses for these veterans.

The Promoting Careers in Aviation for America’s Veterans Act of 2020 would also take substantive steps to increase opportunities for servicemembers that are interested in careers in aviation, including allowing GI bill benefits to be used for private pilot’s license training, developing a national strategy to assist veterans in joining the aviation workforce, and providing stable funding for community airports in Central New York and across the state.

“Our nation’s veterans deserve the utmost respect, and they should never have to worry about the federal government retroactively changing the rules and limiting their benefits,” said Rep. Katko. “After hearing William Becker’s story, I developed the Promoting Careers in Aviation for America’s Veterans Act to provide relief to veterans who were impacted by the IRS’s unfair ruling regarding the deductibility of flight training expenses. Mr. Becker has been seeking restitution for this mistreatment for decades, and I am proud to join his fight by introducing commonsense legislation to address this issue and promote opportunities in aviation for all of our nation’s veterans.”

“For the last 40 years, I have been trying to correct an injustice in the denial of veterans benefits by the IRS, which were authorized by Congress in 1962,” said William Becker. “Thanks to the courtesy and understanding of Congressman John Katko, the bill which he is introducing would correct this injustice and would allow me to receive this benefit. It would finally bring closure to the issue after a long fight.”

"Our nation's Veterans served their country honorably, and we must make sure they have the support they need to be successful after they transition back to civilian life," Rep. Brindisi said. "All Veterans deserve a good-paying job in order to support themselves and their families. This bipartisan legislation will open up careers in aviation, allowing many Veterans to put to use skills they learned in the military."