National Guard Members Activated in Emergencies Shouldn't Pay State Income Tax for Service

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Nearly 40 million Californians rely on just 23,000 members of the California National Guard to be ready in emergency situations. 

When the governor calls up Guard Members to respond to disasters like last year’s devastating wildfires, these men and women leave fulltime day jobs and place their lives in danger to provide aid. They make significant sacrifices to help communities when existing resources on the ground cannot do the job alone.

For answering the call during challenging times, the state compensates members for their service – but not before taking its share in taxes. 

SB 924, by Senator Mike Morrell (R-Rancho Cucamonga), would reverse this policy, recognizing Guard Members for their efforts and alleviating some financial stress. The bill would exempt income from state income tax when that income is derived from Emergency State Active Duty (ESAD) status.

By taking this approach, California would join states like New York, Oregon, Virginia, Florida, Illinois, Massachusetts, and Michigan, which all offer various tax benefits to service members.

“Members of the National Guard often drop everything at a moment’s notice to serve communities in crisis – they are the 9-1-1 call for our emergency response system,” said Morrell. “These individuals take time away from their families to work on our behalf. They should be able to keep more of the pay they receive for the services they provide while activated during disasters.”

SB 924 is sponsored by the National Guard Association of California, which advocates for the interests of current and past members of the State Military Department as well as its federal active duty and reserve force comrades in arms.

The measure passed the Senate Governance and Finance Committee on a 6-0 vote. SB 924 was also approved by the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee on a 7-0 vote.

The bill next heads to the Senate Appropriations Committee for consideration later this spring.