Dear editor,

AmeriCorps members make a difference in Wausau and communities throughout Wisconsin, and we can make a difference for them by exempting the AmeriCorps education award from state income tax.

Each year, over 1,200 AmeriCorps members serve 1 million hours at nearly 350 service sites across Wisconsin. Wausau is home to one of Wisconsin’s longest-running programs, NCCAP AmeriCorps, whose members serve youths and their families as mentors and tutors during and after school.

Our state’s AmeriCorps members positively impact Wisconsinites by providing educational programming, supporting citizens with disabilities, assisting homeless youths, constructing housing, completing conservation and disaster recovery projects, helping people lead healthier lives, and in numerous other ways.

Additionally, they stepped up to assist local communities during the COVID-19 pandemic by helping students during remote learning and at reopened schools and by supporting food banks, school meal programs, 211 call lines, contact tracing, patient follow-up calls, and other relief efforts.

Following their service, AmeriCorps members earn a federal education award that can be used for tuition or to pay back student loan debt.  Unlike other scholarships, this education award is subject to state income taxes that increase their tax bills while students attending college or starting a new job with limited incomes. 

Recognizing this issue, Gov. Evers proposed exempting the education award from taxation in the 2021-23 Executive Budget. 

Eliminating the state income tax on the AmeriCorps Education Award is a wonderful way to recognize and thank AmeriCorps members for their contributions to the state of Wisconsin.

Jeanne Duffy, executive director, Serve Wisconsin

Editor’s note: Wausau Pilot & Review gladly publishes commentary from readers, residents and candidates for local offices. The views of readers and columnists are independent of this newspaper and do not necessarily reflect the views of Wausau Pilot & Review. To submit, email editor@wausaupilotandreview.com or mail to 500 N. Third St., Suite 208-8, Wausau, Wis. 54403.