Thursday, 16 February 2017 16:29

Troops risking their lives flying over Iraq among those losing tax exemption

 

CTV News has learned that military personnel who are regularly going into Iraq are among the Canadian troops losing a tax exemption because the military decided they do not face high enough risk.

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 the Camp Arfijan base in Kuwait lost the tax break in September, after the military downgraded the risk level. As of June, 300 more soldiers stationed in Kuwait will no longer be eligible.

Soldiers say they feel betrayed. “This is an unsafe part of the world by any stretch of the imagination,” one told CTV News.

A reminder of the danger came in 2015, when ISIS executed Jordanian pilot Muath al-Kaseasbeh after his plane crashed in Syria.

Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan promised at a defence committee meeting on Dec. 1 to fix the situation, but so far nothing has changed.

Conservative MP James Bezan demanded in the House of Commons Wednesday that the government “do the right thing and restore full danger pay to these troops and their families.”

But Prime Minister Justin Trudeau would not commit to reversing the decision. “We're looking at a broad range of things in this budget,” Trudeau later responded. “We've committed to reducing taxes for the middle class, and that's what we're continuing to focus on,” he added.

One military mother has started a petition demanding the tax break be reinstated.