Federal act protects those on active duty
By Chris Weickert, Development and Communications Prairie State Legal Services
Many Illinois families are facing the uncertainties of a family member called into military service. While the threat of harm to their family member is of course the greatest concern, many families are also struggling to address problems caused by the reduction in earnings.
A federal law called the Soldiers and Sailors Civil Relief Act offers a number of protections for service members and their families. These protections may delay an eviction, prevent a mortgage foreclosure, prevent a repossession, or stop creditors from charging late fees under the following conditions:
The service member has received their orders for active duty
The service member has lost substantial income because of military service and this results in the inability to pay certain expenses
The contract was signed before the family member started active service.
The first step for family members is to notify the mortgage company, landlord, credit card company, courts or others that the family member is now on active duty.
The Act also may provide a service member and their family additional time to pay state or federal income taxes without any added penalties. A tax return must be filed and special forms must be completed for the state and federal government before this government will approve of any deferment of tax payments. The IRS offers assistance at 800-829-1040. Illinois tax info: 800-732-8866.
Family members of those called to active duty may visit www.illinoislawhelp.org. Prairie State offers legal assistance without charge to low-income households. Call 800-531-7057.