Thursday, May 4, 2023
WASHINGTON (KTVZ) — Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-OR), along with U.S. Senators Patty Murray (D-WA), Roger Wicker (R-MS), and John Boozman (R-AR), teamed up Thursday to introduce the bipartisan Nurse Corps Tax Parity Act, legislation to ensure that nurses in the federal Nurse Corps are not required to pay federal income tax on their student loan forgiveness and scholarships.
“As the husband of a nurse, I know frontline nurses are the backbone of communities, helping patients and families through both joyous and challenging times,” said Merkley. “Nurse Corps members build healthier communities in the areas of greatest need, and it is terrible public policy and frankly offensive that nurses are singled out for extra taxation as compared to other health professionals-it’s long past time to put an end to this.”
“Nurses work day in and day out to provide lifesaving care for our communities. They have an incredibly difficult job and COVID-19 only made it harder, pushing so many people, and our health care workforce, to the brink,” said Murray. “We need more nurses in order to provide the best possible care for patients-which is why I am proud to cosponsor the Nurse Corps Tax Parity Act. This bill will strengthen our health care workforce and put more money in the pockets of nurses who selflessly serve some of our most vulnerable communities.”
“Nurses are essential to our health care system, and we need more of them,” Wicker said. “The Nurse Corps Tax Parity Act would further incentivize individuals to enter the nursing workforce by eliminating a tax penalty for those participating in the Nurse Corps.”
“Like many other states, Arkansas has a shortage of nurses, which ultimately leads to reduced access to quality care. This legislation will eliminate an unnecessary financial burden while incentivizing these medical professionals to bring their skills to underserved areas to support the health needs of rural populations,” Boozman said.
The National Health Service Corps (NHSC) and the Nurse Corps are two programs administered by the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) aimed at delivering critical health care services in underserved areas. These corps programs offer both scholarships and loan repayment for health care providers in exchange for service in these areas. However, despite the similar missions and program offerings of the NHSC and Nurse Corps, NHSC scholarships and loan forgiveness are not subject to federal income tax, but Nurse Corps scholarships and loan forgiveness are.
This legislation is also co-sponsored by Senators Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), Peter Welch (D-VT), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Mark Kelly (D-AZ), and Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY).
Without a statutory exemption for the Nurse Corps, scholarships or loan repayments that can be considered compensation for services are taxable. To ensure parity in tax status between the NHSC and Nurse Corps, the Nurse Corps Tax Parity Act amends the Internal Revenue Code to create parity in tax treatment for scholarships and loan repayment between the NHSC and the Nurse Corps.
The Nurse Corps Tax Parity Act of 2023 is endorsed by the American Nurses Association (ANA), the American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN), the American Association of Nurse Anesthesiology (AANA), the American Association of Nurse Practitioners (AANP), the Association of Public Health Nurses (APHN), the Association of Rehabilitation Nurses (ARN), American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME), the Commissioned Officers Association of the USPHS (COA), Friends of the National Institute of Nursing Research (FNINR), and the Oncology Nursing Society (ONS).