A Warrior’s Tale – Updated

( – promoted by navajo)

Crossposted from Daily Kos

Last Veterans Day I published a diary which you may recall titled Thank You for Your Service, which related the sad story of a Pottawatomi from Kansas who’d served twenty years in the U.S. Army, only to discover after those twenty years of service that his home state of Kansas had been robbing him by wrongfully withholding state income tax from his miltary pay.

This retired Master Sergeant has been trying for the years since to recover that money.

The diary gave an overview of the way the laws differ from state to state and had a few helpful tips for avoiding future occurences but precious little in the way of solid means of recovery for past injustices.

What follows is an update of how this process works in my home state of Arizona.

Those who recall the diary will remember that I advised that Kansas veteran that his best hope of recovery lay through the organized political power of the veterans organizations. It happens he is a member of the American Legion, so I advised him to start there.

By sheer happenstance shortly thereafter I met a candidate for State Commander of the American Legion here in Arizona. Armed with his card and email address I sent him a copy of the diary, and asked him to look into this matter as it concerns Arizona Native American veterans. Mr. George Cushing, the Legion official, is a busy man, and it took him a while to get back to me. The tale becomes twisted from here, so a brief recap will have to do.

First I was made privy to an email to Mr. Cushing from a high level Arizona state government official who recognized that the same situation had occurred here in Arizona, and that many Native vets had refund money coming, but that in the state’s ridicuously tight economic circumstances getting it out of the legislature would be problematic.

I wanted to publish the text of that email in a follow up diary, but only, of course, with the permission of the writer. Several days of phone calls and emails concluded with the Legislative Liaison for the Department of Veterans Services sending me a very discouraging email in which he cited a state tax ruling that basically declared the funds unrecoverable. This was a major setback.

Then, this morning, there was another email from the American Legion official which he encouraged me to “share with our Native American comrades.” Reproduced in relevant part, it read

Mr. George Frank from the Department of Revenue at (602) 716-6025 was the person who called  us  and stated that those whom had tax taken out while on military active duty can file a AZ Form 140 Resident or a AZ Form 140 Non-resident.  I have attached hereto for you the necessary forms, with both the instructions and booklets for filing.

In other words, Arizona Native American veterans who had a reservation address of record during their military service can recover wrongfully withheld state income taxes by filling out AZ Form 140 as appropriate.

Eligible Arizona vets can contact me through this blog site, or deal with Mr. Frank directly, for assistance in reclaiming their hard earned dollars.

None of which directly helps our Kansas Pottawatomi brother, but puts Arizona in line behind New Mexico and Connecticut in doing right by Native American veterans and leading other states in the right direction.

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