Bill aims to exempt student loan repayment from taxes


Current VMLRP funds subject to 39 percent federal withholding tax.

Congressmen Adrian Smith, (R-Nebraska), and Ron Kind, (D-Wisconsin), introduced H.R. 3019 or the Veterinary Medicine Loan Repayment Program (VMLRP) Enhancement Act to the House of Representatives on July 16 in effort to make the program exempt from federal withholding tax, according to the bill. 

The VMLRP provides reimbursement for student loan debt, up to $25,000 annually, to veterinarians who practice for three years in areas designated as shortage areas by the United States Department of Agriculture. Currently, VMLRP repayments are subject to a 39 percent withholding tax, which means the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) takes 39 cents per dollar of all the money Congress designates to the program. 

This takes away funds from the program that could be used to place more veterinarians in areas that areas that are underserved, officials say. The sister program in human medicine is not subjected to the IRS tax, allowing the program to fund more doctors and nurses without having to increase annual appropriation, says the American Veterinary Medical Association, which supports the bill.

In February, Senator Mike Crapo, (R-Idaho), introduced S. 440, the VMLRP Enhancement Act, to the Senate with the same goal. That bill was read twice and referred to the Committee on Finance.

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