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Letter to the President of the Senate and to the Speaker on Combat Pay Tax Exemption for Officers.

August 18, 1966

Dear Mr. president: (Dear Mr. Speaker:)

Both as president and as Commander-in-Chief, I am today asking the Congress to correct a tax inequity that exists among our fighting men in Viet Nam.

Under present law, the pay received by enlisted personnel while serving in a combat zone is fully exempt from Federal income tax. Commissioned officers, however, receive only a $200 exemption per month.

When these exemptions were set--during the Korean Conflict--they were designed to put officers on an equal footing with senior noncommissioned officers for tax purposes. But we have had seven military pay raises since then, and some enlisted men are now earning about $500 per month, tax free.

The bill I am today submitting would restore the traditional relationship by raising the combat pay tax exemption for officers to $500 per month.

Under any circumstances, fairness would lead us to take this step. But when we are dealing with Americans in combat--daily risking their lives for the cause of freedom-then fairness compels this action.

There is no true measure of the heroic efforts of our servicemen in Viet Nam. But we can at least assure them--by such proposals as this--that everything we can do for them will be done.

We have given them the G.I. Bill--to provide concrete help in getting a fresh start through education and training upon their return.

We are speeding their mail--more than two million pounds are delivered each month.

We are providing the fastest and most modern medical care in the world--the lives of almost 90 percent of those wounded are saved, the best record in any conflict in history.

We have sent them our most able military leaders.

I talked to one of those leaders last weekend: General William Westmoreland, the Commander of our forces in Vietnam. He told me that the American troops in Vietnam today are the best trained, best equipped, and best disciplined men with whom he has ever served. Their morale is high, for they know why they are there. Their determination is certain, for they know they will succeed.

I asked General Westmoreland--for myself, for the American people, and for members of Congress--to carry back to them the message that their determination will be matched by renewed resolve and increased support at home.



Note: This is the text of identical letters addressed to the Honorable Hubert H. Humphrey, President of the Senate, and to the Honorable John W. McCormack, Speaker of the House of Representatives.

The text of the draft bill was also made public by the White House.

A bill "to amend section 112 of the Internal Revenue Code of 1954 to increase from $200 to $500 the monthly combat pay exclusion for commissioned officers serving in combat zones" was approved by the President on November a, 1966 (see Item 571).

Lyndon B. Johnson, Letter to the President of the Senate and to the Speaker on Combat Pay Tax Exemption for Officers. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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