Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Eligible Veterans Can Seek Refund for Taxes on Disability Severance Payment

By Lisa Ferdinando, DoD News, Defense Media Activity

WASHINGTON -- The Defense Department has identified more than 130,000 veterans who may be eligible for a refund for taxes paid on their disability severance payment, a DoD tax expert said.

Army Lt. Col. David Dulaney, the executive director for the Armed Forces Tax Council, said the department began mailing notices to veterans July 9.

The deadline to file for the refund is one year from the date of the Defense Department notice, or three years after the due date for filing the original return for the year the disability severance payment was made, or two years after the tax was paid for the year the disability severance payment was made, according to the IRS.

Affected veterans can submit a claim based on their actual disability severance payment by submitting to the IRS a completed Form 1040X, the Amended U.S. Individual Income Tax Return, Dulaney said.

The IRS also has approved a simplified method for obtaining the refund, in which veterans can claim the standard refund amount on Form 1040X based on when they received the disability severance payment. Those standard refund amounts are $1,750 for tax years 1991 to 2005, $2,400 for tax years 2006 to 2010;, and $3,200 for tax years 2011 to 2016.

Dulaney pointed out the disability severance payment is not taxable or subject to federal income tax withholding for a veteran meeting either of these criteria:

-- The veteran has a combat-related injury or illness as determined by his or her military service at separation that resulted directly from armed conflict; took place while the member was engaged in extra-hazardous service; took place under conditions simulating war, including training exercises such as maneuvers; or was caused by an instrumentality of war.

-- The veteran is receiving disability compensation from the Department of Veterans Affairs or has received notification from VA approving such compensation.

Combat-Injured Veterans Tax Fairness Act of 2016

However, many of the veterans had taxes withheld, Dulaney said. The Combat-Injured Veterans Tax Fairness Act of 2016 remedies that, he said. The act directed the secretary of defense to identify disability severance payments paid after Jan. 17, 1991, that were included as taxable income.

Even if a veteran did not receive a letter from the Defense Department, the individual may still be eligible for a refund. Dulany recommends visiting the IRS website and searching “combat injured veterans” for further information.

Estates or surviving spouses can file a claim on behalf of a veteran who is now deceased, the IRS explains on its website.

Former Business Partner of U.S. Military Contractor Pleads Guilty to Bribery Scheme Related to Contracts in Support of Iraq War

A former business partner of a U.S. military contractor pleaded guilty today to one count of bribery for his role in a years-long scheme to bribe U.S. Army contracting officials stationed at a U.S. military base in Kuwait, announced Assistant Attorney General
Brian A. Benczkowski of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division.

According to the plea filed today in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Alabama, Finbar Charles, 62, a citizen of Saint Lucia most recently residing in Baguio City, Philippines, was a business partner of a former U.S. military contractor, Terry Hall.  As Hall’s business partner, Charles facilitated Hall and others in providing millions of dollars in bribes in approximately 2005 to 2007 to various U.S. Army officials in exchange for preferential treatment for Hall’s companies in connection with Department of Defense (DOD) contracts to deliver bottled water and construct security fencing to support U.S. troops stationed in Kuwait and Iraq.

As part of his role in this criminal conspiracy, Charles managed bank accounts in Kuwait and the Philippines that he used to receive DOD payments and transfer illegal bribes to various U.S. Army contracting officials, including Majors Eddie Pressley, John Cockerham, James Momon, and Chris Murray.  All of those individuals, as well as at least 10 other coconspirators, have pleaded guilty or been convicted of crimes relating to this scheme.  Charles admitted that he personally received over $228,000 in illicit gains as a result of his participation. 

The sentencing is set for Nov. 26.

This case was investigated by the Defense Criminal Investigative Service, the U.S. Army Criminal Investigation Command, the FBI, and the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction.  The case is being prosecuted by Trial Attorneys Peter N. Halpern and Robert J. Heberle of the Criminal Division’s Public Integrity Section.

Face of Defense: Former Enlisted Marine Serves as Army Warrant Officer

By William Roche, U.S. Army Cyber Command

FORT GORDON, Ga. -- You’d think that making the jump from serving as an enlisted Marine Corps signals intelligence specialist to an Army cyber warrant officer would be a pretty complicated process that involves more than a few flaming hoops, but Army Chief Warrant Officer 4 Raul Negron Jr. makes it sound almost routine.

In fact Negron not only made that leap, he ultimately jumped into the role of proponent, and helps to recruit Army cyber warrant officers and guide their careers.

Negron, a native of Tampa, Fla., says he became interested in being an Army warrant officer during his second assignment as a Marine. That tour was his first exposure to warrant officers, and he was intrigued by the fact that they served as the leading technical experts in their fields. But though he was an ambitious young Marine, he says he recognized that he wasn’t quite ready for that move at that time.

“I recognized that I was still too junior, and I had a lot more to learn before I was ready for that,” he said. “I didn't want to be a technical expert if I still needed to learn a lot more.”

Service Transfer

But Negron stayed focused on his goal, and when he felt he was ready he applied for a service transfer to join the Army’s ranks as a warrant officer. He was returning from deployment in 2005, he said, a Marine staff sergeant with seven and a half years in the Corps, when he learned that his request had been approved.

It sounds like a rare occurrence, but Negron said that while it’s not widely advertised, there are quite a few Army warrant officers who transferred from other services.

The next jump was from signals intelligence to cyber. Negron said it really wasn’t that much of a stretch, since cyber grew from signal and military intelligence. And it had been his first interest. He had earned a bachelor’s degree in computer science and was pursuing his master’s degree. So when he was offered the opportunity to help build the brand-new Army Cyber Command in 2010, it “lined up perfectly” with his goals and he jumped at the chance.

“It just happened to be that I had the right degree, the opportunity presented itself, and I was in my [permanent change of station] window. And I guess timing is everything,” he said.

At the time Negron was still a signals intelligence warrant officer. He said the occupational code for cyber warrant officers -- 170A, cyber operations technician -- didn’t even exist. But building Army Cyber Command required people with technical expertise.

“It was something new that no one really knew, [and when] I got to Army Cyber Command in 2010, it was mostly about organizing the command, [developing] authorities and things of that nature. I did start doing technical stuff eventually, because the organization was so new, and you had to figure out who was supposed to be doing what,” he said.

Recruiting Others

A few years later, he says, when the first call went out for interested Army warrant officers to transfer into the cyber field via the Voluntary Transfer Incentive Program, he again jumped at the chance. Eventually his experience and drive earned him his job as the Army’s career field proponent, a role that keeps him busy making recruiting trips, talking with noncommissioned officers in all services about being an Army cyber warrant officer, and developing and facilitating training, career paths and retention programs for cyber warrants.

Negron clearly likes what he does, and clearly believes in the opportunities and satisfaction the cyber warrant officer profession has in store for anyone who wants to pursue -- and remain in -- a technical career path.

“The selling point I give to the NCOs that I brief, whether it's Army, Navy, Marine Corps or Air Force, is that there's only one place that you can remain technical in cyber for an entire career. And that's with us, in the Army. As an Army cyber warrant officer. We are the only [specialty], the only service that can offer that,” he says. “Our warrant officers … are very technical. We are hands on keyboard. We want you to ... remain technical for an entire career. That is how we built the and have set up the [specialty].”

“In the Army, typically you make E-7 [the rank of sergeant first class], and what do we do? Probably make you a platoon sergeant,” he adds. “That's kind of the rule, if you will. And there's nothing wrong with that. That's a vital function. We need that. But there are some guys and gals that want to remain ‘hands on keyboard.’ And so those are the folks that we recruit, because they want to remain on a keyboard for an entire career.”

But Negron stresses that being on a keyboard and being a cyber technical expert is a challenge, not a vacation.

“Things are changing fast and are changing every day. We're very busy. This really isn't going to be a career where you join and you get to kick back and relax. You are going to be busy,” he says.