CONGRESSWOMAN ELISE STEFANIK
S. 475 is expected to be considered under suspension of the rules, requiring a two-thirds majority for passage. The legislation was introduced by Sen. Richard Burr (R-NC) on February 25, 2009. The bill passed the Senate without amendment by unanimous consent on August 4, 2009.
S. 475 would amend the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act to prohibit, for purposes of voting for a federal, State, or local office, deeming a person to have lost a residence in a State, acquired a residence in any other State, or become a resident in or of any other State solely because the person is accompanying a spouse who is absent from the State in compliance with military or naval orders.
The bill would prohibit a servicemember's spouse from either losing or acquiring residence for purposes of taxation because of being absent or present in any U.S. tax jurisdiction solely to be with the servicemember in compliance with the servicemember's military orders if the residence is the same for the servicemember and the spouse. The bill would prohibit a spouse's income from being considered income earned in a tax jurisdiction if the spouse is not a resident of such jurisdiction when the spouse is in that jurisdiction solely to be with a servicemember serving under military orders.
Finally, the bill suspends land rights residency requirements for spouses accompanying servicemembers serving under military orders.
S. 475 contains several provisions to afford certain Servicemember Civil Relief Act protections to the spouses of military personnel. Currently, the men and women of our military are afforded civil legal protections, provided by the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA).
Among a wide range of protections, the SCRA allows a servicemember to maintain his or her residency for certain purposes, such as voting, income taxes, and personal property taxes, in a State from which the servicemember is absent in compliance with military orders. These protections essentially allow a servicemember to retain a "home" State while he or she is ordered to new locations by the military and to avoid many of the difficulties, burdens, and distractions associated with a permanent change of duty station.
S. 475 would provide military spouses with SCRA residency protections similar to those afforded to servicemembers.
According to CBO, the total cost of complying with the mandate would fall well below the annual threshold established in UMRA ($69 million in 2009, adjusted annually for inflation). The bill contains no private-sector mandates as defined in UMRA. Section 4 of UMRA excludes from the application of that act any legislative provisions that are necessary for enforcing the constitutional rights of individuals. CBO has determined that section 2 of this bill falls within that exclusion; but they have not reviewed it for intergovernmental or private-sector mandates.