LOS ANGELES— On Friday, California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger signed into law Senate Bill 1689, which will exempt Armenian Genocide life insurance settlements from state taxation and other calculations related to income.
Praising the move, Armenian National Committee Executive Director Ardashes Kassakhian explained that Charles Poochigian’s bill addresses an injustice that New York Life insurance committed against its policy holders who were massacred by the Turkish authorities. “The road to justice for the victims of the Armenian Genocide has been long and arduous. The passage of SB 1689 is an important step in this process,” Kassakhian said.
The exemptions in the bill are similar to exemptions provided to recipients of the Holocaust. The bill was crafted because of the long-standing insurance policy claims by survivors and descendants of the Armenian Genocide.
Prior to 1915, the New York Life Insurance Company wrote thousands of life insurance policies to Armenians living on historic Armenian lands in the Ottoman Empire. New York Life had refused to pay out many of the claims until a settlement was reached last year as a result of a class action lawsuit. SB 1689 allows the victims and their descendants to collect their settlements without being subject to taxation by the State of California.
SB 1689 was introduced by Senator Poochigian on February 20 and was subsequently referred to the committee on Revenue and Tax. The bill was passed by a unanimous 11-0 vote in committee followed by a 37-0 vote by the entire State Senate. SB 1689 secured strong support in the California State Assembly. It was then sent to the Governor Schwarzenegger on September 2 and quickly signed into law on September 10.