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Tax Relief for the Wrongfully Convicted

Since 2007, I have been on the frontlines of efforts to right a tremendous wrong in our tax code. After an eight year fight, Congress passed the ‘Wrongful Convictions Tax Relief Act’ to prevent the federal government from taxing awards received by individuals who were wrongfully convicted.

I was inspired to introduce this bill after hearing the story of James Tillman, an East Hartford resident who served 18 years in prison for a crime he did not commit. Thanks to the efforts of the Innocence Project and a new DNA test, Mr. Tillman was exonerated in 2006. The Connecticut General Assembly awarded him $5 million in compensation for what he endured, but such awards were considered taxable income by the federal government.


Pictured: James Tillman, Gov. Dannel Malloy, Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), and
Rep. John B. Larson before the 2016 State of the Union address. Mr. Tillman
joined Rep. Larson as his guest for the President’s final SOTU


Those who are wrongly convicted have suffered enough. They shouldn’t see their awards taxed. That’s why I joined with my colleague and American hero Rep. Sam Johnson (R-TX) to sponsor the Wrongful Convictions Tax Relief Act, and we celebrated its passage as part of the Protecting Americans from Tax Hikes (PATH) Act.

Now, the federal government will no longer tax the compensation received by those who were wrongfully convicted. Individuals previously exonerated can file for a return of any taxes paid on their awards if claimed within a year of the Act’s passage. Rep. Johnson and I have reached out to the IRS to encourage them to communicate these changes, and we will keep working to make sure no eligible American goes without this return.

I am tremendously proud of the work we did with Rep. Johnson on this important issue. It goes to show that whether we are Democrats or Republicans, we can work together to do what’s right.


Related Media

Congressmen press IRS on tax relief for wrongfully imprisoned (The Hill)

Rep. John Larson invites Glastonbury man who unnecessarily spent 18 years in prison to SOTU (Fox 61)

Hartford case helped inspire tax relief for wrongfully convicted (CT Mirror)