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Thursday, February 9, 2017

CAF Members Serving in Kuwait Lose major tax exemption

By: Mercedes Stephenson, Reporter, Ottawa Bureau, CTV National News

Canadian troops critical to the fight against ISIS have lost a major tax break that had saved them more than $9,000 each over the course of a six-month tour.

The tax breaks, worth between $1,500 to $1,800 per month, are provided to soldiers who meet certain criteria related to the risk of their duties and the relative hardship of their living conditions while deployed overseas.

Fifteen soldiers at Camp Arfijan, a base in Kuwait, lost the tax break in September, after the military downgraded the risk level. They fought to get it back, arguing that they faced no less danger or hardship than other soldiers stationed in the country.

But instead of restoring the tax break to Camp Arifjan’s soldiers, the military took the exemption away from the more than 300 soldiers stationed in Kuwait who will no longer be eligible as of June 1st, 2017.

One soldier told CTV News that, out of all the nations fighting ISIS, he believes the Canadians are the only ones who will not be getting the tax break. The Pentagon confirmed to CTV News that all American soldiers deployed to Iraq receive tax exemption status.

Military sources say the change is already causing hardships. One deployed soldier supports his disabled sister and pays his elderly mother’s mortgage, and now their financial future is uncertain.

His mother, Glenda Lindsay, said it feels as though her son is being cheated. “They're cutting corners at the troops' expense,” she told CTV News.

Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan promised to fix the situation at a defence committee meeting on Dec. 1 when he was pressed by Conservative Defence Critic, James Bezan.

But there has yet to be any change. One affected soldier feels like “we got kicked in the stomach.”