Legislation Would Expand Combat Zone Tax Exclusion Status to Crews Operating Remotely Piloted Aircraft in Combat Zones 

The Majority of the Air Force’s Remotely Piloted Aircraft are Flown Out of Creech Air Force Base in Nevada

WASHINGTON, DC – Today, U.S. Senators Jacky Rosen (D-NV) and Marsha Blackburn (R-TN), members of the Senate Armed Services Committee, announced the introduction of bipartisan legislation that would expand Combat Zone Tax Exclusion eligibility to remotely piloted aircraft (RPA) crews who are operating missions in combat zones. Congressman Steven Horsford (D-NV), a member of the House Armed Services Committee, introduced companion legislation in the U.S. House of Representatives.

Despite RPA crews conducting combat missions and experiencing many of the stressors of combat, they are not currently eligible to earn the same tax-free income as those who are physically in a combat zone. This would particularly benefit Airmen in Nevada, with the majority of the Air Force’s RPA missions being flown out of Creech Air Force Base in Indian Springs. 

“This bipartisan legislation would ensure that servicemembers at Creech Air Force Base conducting remotely piloted aircraft operations in combat zones are eligible for the same tax benefit as others serving in combat zones,” said Senator Rosen. “I’m pleased to be building on the bipartisan provision I helped secure in this year’s national defense bill to support these crews’ mental health and improve their quality of life, and will always fight to make sure that our servicemembers in Nevada and across our country receive the benefits they deserve.”

“Twenty-first Century warfare is increasingly conducted stateside, yet drone crews engaged in active combat situations are not recognized as having served in combat by the military and therefore do not receive benefits or care commensurate with their service,” said Senator Blackburn. “These servicemembers experience similar stressors to their colleagues who are physically overseas and see similar horrific events play out, and deserve to be treated as such. This legislation will provide drone crews with a combat zone tax exemption while they are actively supporting combat operations from domestic locations. This is a debt we owe to our servicemembers who are in the fight every day, which is why Senator Rosen and I continue to champion these members.”

“As our military technology advances, so must the policy that impacts the men and women who serve in our armed forces,” said Congressman Horsford. “While the remote situations of these combat operations provide greater security and safety for the members of our military, the mental impact and stress remain the same. I am proud to introduce this bipartisan proposal in the House and work with my colleagues to swiftly advance this legislation. Our troops deserve access to the same benefits for the same type of work, and I will always advocate for their needs.”

Senator Rosen has consistently advocated for Nevada’s servicemembers. In the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2023 (NDAA), which Senators Rosen and Blackburn voted for and helped advance out of committee, servicemembers received a much-needed 4.6% pay increase. Senators Rosen and Blackburn also secured a bipartisan amendment that directs the Secretary of the Air Force to report to Congress on the feasibility of establishing a program to help improve the quality of life for RPA crews, who face a retention and mental health crisis due to the stressors and intensity of their occupation.

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