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December 23, 1999

Governor Signs Bill To Exempt Holocaust Victims From State Taxes

CHICAGO -- Governor George H. Ryan today signed a bill to exempt the survivors and heirs of the victims of the Holocaust from paying state taxes on reparation payments.

House Bill 1120 specifically amends the Illinois Income Tax Act to grant a deduction of the income received by taxpayers because of their status as victims of persecution. The measure also excludes income received as a victim or descendent of a victim of Nazi persecution from consideration for eligibility under the public aid provision. The bill passed unanimously and is effective immediately.

"There is no amount of money and there are no words that can undo the suffering of victims of the Holocaust, but nevertheless, we should not add insult to injury by diminishing their reparations through taxation," Ryan said. "Through this bill, the state is making the added gesture of excluding income of those victims from consideration for eligibility under the provisions of public aid so that the income of senior or disabled persons receiving state assistance are not adversely affected." Ryan signed House Bill 1120 at a ceremony at Spertus Institute of Jewish Studies with Holocaust survivors.

Rep. Jeff Schoenberg, D-Evanston, introduced this legislation to extend the reparation exemptions of Holocaust survivors from any country or government. Existing Illinois law follows the federal tax exclusion for income reparation payments received by victims of Nazi Germany only that are paid by the German government.

"This bill provides another small measure of justice for those individuals who had their lives irreparably harmed by the Nazis during World War II," Schoenberg said. It is unknown how many Illinoisans would be entitled to reparation.

Earlier this year, Ryan signed Executive Order 14 to seek exclusion from state taxes for survivor and heirs of the holocaust reparation payments.The order stated: "The Illinois Department of Revenue shall work to interpret all relevant State laws, federal laws and treaties in a consistent manner so as to exclude from Illinois income taxation reparations payable to holocaust victims to the greatest extent possible, consistent with its duties to enforce the law.

"Be it further ordered that, if the Illinois Department of Revenue should determine that some future reparations payable to holocaust victims are not clearly excluded from Illinois income taxation, the Illinois Department of Revenue shall propose the necessary legislation to clearly exclude such reparations from taxation."

House Bill 1120 was sponsored by Schoenberg and other House representatives including, Sara Feigenholtz, D-Chicago; Carol Ronen, D-Chicago; Sidney Mathias, R-Buffalo Grove; and Julie Hamos, D-Evanston. Senate sponsors were Sen. William "Bill" Peterson, R-Prairie View; Sen. Terry Link, D-Highwood; Sen. Arthur Berman, D-Chicago; Sen. Ira Silverstein, D-Chicago; and Sen. Kathleen Parker, R-Northfield.


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