Column: Norman: Disabled 1st responders deserve lifetime tax-exempt status

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There are people among us who make sacrifices. People who pay the ultimate price not for prestige, power or glory – but for strangers in need.
Sometimes, these men and women are found abroad or on our military bases keeping us safe. Often, they are found right next door. These are our first responders, our neighborhood heroes who go to work every day with the full knowledge that they might not return home.
Nationwide in the second half of 2018 alone, nearly 700 first responders were permanently disabled or killed in the line of duty.
Our society owes a debt of gratitude to these men and women who run toward danger, risking their lives to help others. We should always recognize that sacrifice.
That is why I am introducing legislation to help these first responders and their families stay on solid financial footing in the wake of tragedy. Nothing will ever restore what they have lost, but I believe this is the least we can do for those who have paid the ultimate price for their communities.
On Tuesday, I introduced the Putting Our First Responders First Act. This bill would allow first responders who become permanently injured in the line of duty to receive their disability compensation tax-free for the rest of their lives.
Currently, they must begin paying taxes when they reach their normal retirement age. With this law on the books, any first responder who is injured in the line of duty would receive their disability checks tax-free for as long as he or she lives.
This bill would also provide the IRS and its auditors with much-needed guidance on the tax-exempt status of these individuals.
This is a nonpartisan bill designed to help those who need it and, frankly, deserve it the most. Ask only the Fraternal Order of Police, the National Association of Police Organizations, or the National Sheriff’s Association, who among others are endorsing this bill.
I am grateful for my colleagues on both sides of the aisle who have expressed support for this legislation, and hope this is an issue that will rise above the fray of everyday partisanship.
This Sunday, May 12, marks the beginning of Police Week. This year, I hope you will join me to celebrate the remarkable men and women who make up the ranks of our first responders. They deserve recognition, and they deserve the passage of the Putting Our First Responders First Act.

Republican Ralph Norman represents South Carolina’s Fifth District in the U.S. House.