New bill offers Guam businesses tax credits to cover war claims
By Pacific Island Times News Staff
Sen. Amanda Shelton has introduced a bill proposing a new compensation plan for the remaining World War II survivors who have not yet received their war claims.
Under the $150 million proposed plan, businesses would pay war claims directly to claimants and receive a dollar-for-dollar matching tax credit against their business privilege taxes.
Bill 74-37 allocates $75 million through a tax credit program and an additional $75 million through Section 30 appropriations over a five-year period.
Guam has been unable to get the federal government to cover the survivors' war claims. Several compensation proposals over the years were shunned by the U.S. Congress, compelling the local government to dig into its pocket, using Section 30 funds to cover the payments.
The first group of survivors, whose claims had been adjudicated, received their payments in 2020.
In 2021, the legislature passed Public Law 36-73, also known as "The Guam War World II Reconciliation Act of 2021," established a new program to compensate those survivors and descendants who missed the initial deadline for the filing of war claims under federal law.
If enacted, Bill 74-37 would be the third local war claims program.
“Bill 74-37 is a means to quickly make good on a promise that has taken far too long to fulfill,” Shelton said. “The approval of the tax credits in 2023 guarantees the government of Guam can plan for this obligation. No excuses.”
The proposed plan takes the payments out of the budget process that so often becomes politicized and instead provides for the use of tax credits to ensure that Guam’s Greatest Generation and their qualified descendants get their due.
“Bill 74-37 provides a smooth path forward to fulfill by 2028 the promise of a law that became law during the 36th Guam Legislature. It is a necessary follow-up. It is the least we can do,” Shelton added.
There is no added cost to the government, but there is a mechanism for qualified claimants who have not yet received a war claim to get paid sooner instead of later.
Shelton said it is an opportunity for the public and private sectors to join in recognizing the patriotism, patience, courage, and sacrifice of generations of CHamoru families.
The Guam War World II Reconciliation Act of 2021 established a local program to compensate those victims and survivors of decedents who missed the initial deadline for the filing of war claims under federal law.
The Guam War Claims Fund pays certified claims to compensable Guam victims and survivors of compensable decedents as duly adjudicated by the Guam War Claims Adjudication Committee. Claims scheduled for adjudication are publicized through local news outlets and online at the Department of Administration website.
March 3 marked the last day for Guam’s elders to submit applications for war claims with the Department of Administration.