Congressman Steven T. Kuykendall, vice chairman
of the Merchant Marine Panel for the House Armed Services Committee
, has introduced legislation that would provide merchant mariners the same tax credits as other Americans working abroad. Kuykendall introduced this legislation to increase the employment of American merchant mariners aboard commercial vessels in the foreign and international trades.
Currently, American citizens employed outside the United States may exclude up to $74,000 of their foreign earned income for federal income tax purposes. American merchant mariners, working aboard United States or foreign commercial vessels, are not qualified to take advantage of the foreign earned income exclusion because they are not considered to be working in a foreign country as defined by IRS regulations.
American merchant mariners are being priced out of the market because they require higher pay in order to maintain a comparable after-tax income. Many companies are unwilling to pay the higher wages to Americans, when they can afford mariners from other nations at lower wages.
The proposed legislation would extend the same foreign earned income exclusion available to other American workers to American merchant mariners working aboard commercial vessels operating outside the United States, and would reflect the true nature of their employment.