SitNews - Stories in the News - Ketchikan, Alaska


By Rochelle van den Broek


July 07, 2008

If you are due to receive compensation in the Exxon Valdez case, would you rather give the tax man up to $35% of your settlement, or keep it yourself for later down the road?

The Exxon Valdez oil spill decision announced by the US Supreme Court on June 25, 2008 was a huge blow to everyone awaiting justice for the past 20 years. Disappointment and bitterness have soaked through the veins of those communities affected by the 1989 disaster, leaving thousands of people in disbelief that our judicial system has failed us so miserably.

A reduction in punitive damages from $5 billion to a meager $507.5 million has shattered plaintiff's hopes for corporate retribution, and left many with inadequate funds to retire. Currently, the IRS plans to take around 35% in taxes from each individual settlement. This will cost plaintiffs thousands of dollars each, and further shrink settlements due.

Again, I pose the question ­ would you rather pay the tax man up to 35% of the compensation you've waited 20 years to receive? Or would you prefer to put it aside for your retirement?

This should be a no-brainer. An opportunity to contribute towards future planning should not be passed by, regardless of the amount.

Senator Lisa Murkowski agrees, and has recognized the need for tax relief in this instance. She has been advocating the issue in the Senate, and is hopeful that a provision in the Tax Extenders bill will be made for claimants that includes enabling them to contribute up to $100,000 in an IRA, income averaging over three years and exemptions from paying self employment tax on their award.

For those who have not been able to put away anything for their futures or are looking at delayed retirement, it is critical that this bill passes.

It is imperative that plaintiffs step up and support this bill, and take action to ensure members of Congress realize its full importance to claimants in this case.

A group of oiled fishermen based in Homer, Alaska have been fundraising for over a year to contribute towards a lobbyist promoting the passageway of tax relief for Exxon Valdez plaintiffs. Funding is needed to maintain his presence in Washington D.C to ensure he able to convince members of Congress to support this bill. To make a donation, big or small (every bit counts), send a check to "Oiled Fishermen Fund", UCIDA (United Cook Inlet Drift Association), 43961 K. Beach Road, Suite E Soldotna AK 99669 or call Audrey at 907 260 9436.

Can't afford to donate anything? Don't worry. In addition to financial contributions, it is important that you contact your local Congress person - this is particularly important for people who reside part of the year in the lower 48 states.

Let them know that you support the provision in the Tax Extenders Bill to give Exxon Valdez claimants tax relief." Add your own story and reasoning, and if you are in their district make sure they know you are a constituent.

There is no doubt that contacting members of Congress is effective, particularly as part of a wide-spread effort. It will demonstrate to legislators that tax relief to Exxon plaintiffs is of great importance to people from all regions, and that their constituents will back up their vote of support.

To find the contact information for members of the House, visit and for members of the Senate. It is important to note that the ideal methods of contact are fax and email due to notorious 9-11 security delays on mail deliveries.

Plaintiffs, it is in your best interest to do what you can to support this bill.

Rochelle van den Broek
Executive Director
Cordova District Fishermen United
Cordova, AK


About: "Rochelle van den Broek is the Executive Director of Cordova District Fishermen United, in Cordova, Alaska, and co-produced the Whole Truth campaign ( ), a public awareness campaign designed to spotlight the Exxon Valdez oil spill in the eyes of the nation. PO Box 939, Cordova AK 99574."

Received July 03, 2008 - Published July 07, 2008



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Ketchikan, Alaska