Victims of Terrorism Tax Relief Act
The East Room
The White House
January 23, 2002
3:18 P.M. EST
Thanks for coming. Please be seated. Thank you all very much. We've come together
today to remember and recognize victims of terrorism, and to sign a piece of
legislation that will provide a tangible measure of support for their families.
The Victims of Terrorism Tax Relief Act will provide some tax relief to families
of those killed in the attacks on September the 11th, the anthrax attacks after
September the 11th, and the Oklahoma City bombing. This is a small gesture,
compared to the overwhelming generosity of the American people in times of tragedy.
Yet this will help to extend that generosity because it exempts payments from
charities to victims' families from federal taxes. This legislation is a bipartisan
symbol of the federal government's concern for families who suffered such great
I want to thank the members of Congress who are here. I particularly want to
thank those who worked on the bill -- Senator Torricelli of New Jersey; Senators
Schumer and Clinton of New York -- and by the way, welcome back to the White
House. Senator Nickles of Oklahoma; Senators Allen and Warner of Virginia; Senator
Baucus of Montana; Congressman Rangel of New York; Congressman Fossella of New
York; Congressman Thomas of California, who couldn't be here; and all the other
members, both Republicans and Democrats. Welcome back to town, and welcome to
the White House.
We're joined today by families who have lost loved ones in the great acts of
evil. As you draw on faith and personal strength to cope with your grief, I
hope you'll also find comfort in the knowledge that your nation stands with
you and prays for you. We mourn those whom we've lost, and we face the future
In times like these, we realize both the purpose and the limitations of government.
The government cannot take away your pain and sorrow. But it can bring the killers
to justice. It can devote its energy and resources to try to prevent other families
from experiencing what you're going through, and can help remove some of the
financial obligations it imposes to ease your burdens.
The Oklahoma City bombing was a terrible crime, and justice was done. And I
can assure each of you that justice will be done to all those who are responsible
for the evil acts of September the 11th.
We've already driven the Taliban from power in Afghanistan, and we're helping
a new government take its place. We've infiltrated al Qaeda caves. We destroyed
their camps. We will continue to destroy their bunkers and their hideaways.
We've put them on the run, and we'll hunt them down, wherever they try to hide,
and bring them to justice.
As we wage the war on terrorism abroad, we will also comfort families deeply
hurt by terrorism here at home. The members of the United States Congress who
came together to pass this bill I'll sign today had one goal in mind, to help
ease your financial burdens as you struggle to cope with the loss of your loved
Many families lost their primary wage earners in the attack on the Murrah Federal
Building, in the attacks of September the 11th, and in the anthrax attacks after
September the 11th. This financial strain deepens the emotional and psychological
impact of the initial tragedies. The legislation passed by Congress will relieve
the tax burden on families who have lost loved ones. Under this law, the federal
government will collect no income taxes on wages earned by terrorism victims
in the year of their death, or in the preceding year.
Families of victims killed in the Oklahoma City bombing will receive a tax refund
on behalf of their relatives. Some death benefits paid by employers will be
exempt from federal taxation. Lower state tax rates will apply to victims of
terrorist attacks, as well as to members of the armed services who have been
killed in combat zones.
And to help insure that families receive as much relief as possible from charitable
organizations, payments from charitable organizations to victim's families will
be exempt from federal taxation.
The Victims of Terrorism Tax Relief Act is an important example of our national
unity and resolve, and it's my honor to sign it today. God bless. (Applause.)