Survivor Benefits Should Not Be Taxed - Says Widow of Soldier
The widow of a soldier that was killed by a suicide bomber in 2006 in Afghanistan is fighting the Canadian government to eliminate taxes on survivor benefits. Chantel Roy from Lincoln, New Brunswick was four months pregnant when she learned that her fiance, Private David Byers was killed.
Private David Byers was serving with the Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry in Afghanistan in 2006, when he and three others were killed by a suicide bomber.
Chantel Roy received a lump sum payment of $226,000, which was taxed. Five years later she receives a pension of $1500 and another $1100 for the couples child. This represents 60% of Private Byers salary at the time of his death. Both benefits are taxed.
Chantel Roy contends that since David died serving his country, these benefits should be tax free. She points to the U.S. military which do not tax these benefits. In all likelihood Byers did not have enough time in the military to qualify for a pension, therefore there would have been a return of contribution he made into the Canadian Forces Superannuation fund. The payment she is receiving would be one paid by the Serviceman's Income Security Plan (SISIP) which pays 60% of a serviceman's salary at the time of death.
Roy says she would love to go back to work, however her additional earnings would put her in a higher tax bracket, making it difficult for her and other widows. She has started an online petition and asked for a meeting with re-elected Conservative MP Keith Ashfield, who formerly served as Minister of Revenue.
There has been a lot of criticism recently of the treatment of Veterans in Canada, specifically dealing with lump sum payments rather than monthly benefits. In some cases individual privacy was violated. While the Department of Veterans Affairs and the Department of National Defence will not comment on specific cases. The Royal Canadian Legion is also seeking changes on how survivor benefits are paid out.
Canadian soldiers have been in Afghanistan since January 2002, many of them with multiple tours. The war has taken its toll in killed, wounded and mental health issues. Canada's combat mission will end in July, when Canadian troops will take on a training roll reducing its contingent to 1000 trainers.