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Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA)

Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA)
Protections granted by the SCRA start the first day of active duty. Some portions of the Act protect dependants as well. National Guard/Reserve members are also entitled to protection under the SCRA while on active duty (including basic, technical training, and deployment). In some cases, the SCRA also applies to National Guard members on State orders

6% Maximum Interest Rate
If entering military service has affected your ability to pay your debts, SCRA allows you to cap interest rates on certain debts at 6%. Requirements include:

1) The debt must have been entered into by the servicemember, or jointly by the servicemember and their spouse
2) The debt must have been entered into before entering active duty

You must notify your creditors that you have entered active duty, and provide them with a copy of your orders. In many cases, large creditors and credit companies have form letters available on their websites to help you request SCRA benefits. If you notify your creditors after you enter active duty, they are required to recalculate and forgive any interest over 6% that you've been charged or paid since you entered active duty. They must also reduce your minimum monthly payment when they lower your interest rate

Spouses and Taxes
SCRA protects working spouses from being taxed by two different states. If you are stationed in a state that is not your legal residence, that state cannot use the military member's income to determine the spouse's tax rate. For instance: Military member and civilian spouse are legal residents of Washington State, stationed in Virginia, where the civilian spouse works. Virginia can only use the civilian spouse's income when calculating how much Virginia State tax is owed

Court Proceedings
If you are a defendant in civil court, you may request a 90-day delay of the proceedings. When you request a delay, the court is required to grant one if:

1) You submit a letter explaining how your current military duties prevent you from appearing in court, and stating when you will be available to appear before a judge
2) You submit a letter from your commanding officer explaining that military leave is not authorized for you to attend the proceeding

This applies to lawsuits, custody cases, paternity cases, collections suits, bankruptcy and foreclosure cases, and administrative proceedings

If someone wins a default judgment against you while you're on military duty (meaning you lost a case because you did not appear in court), courts must reopen the case if:

1) Your military service affected your defense
2) You have a legal defense to the action

Terminating Residential Leases
SCRA allows members to terminate rental contracts and leases:

1) When they go onto active duty, if the lease was contracted before they entered active duty
2) When they receive orders to PCS, or to deploy for more than 90 days

You must make the request to your landlord in writing, and must include a copy of your activation, PCS, or deployment orders

Other Leases
In some cases, servicemembers can terminate automobile leases for deployments or activations over 180 days

Evictions
If a servicemember or dependent receives a rental eviction notice, and their rent is less than $2,400/month - the eviction may be halted or postponed for up to 3 months under SCRA. This doesn't remove your debt to the landlord, but may postpone the actual eviction. You must contact your local courthouse and request protection under SCRA

Contact the Base Legal Office at 509-247-2838 for more information about SCRA or if you believe your rights under the SCRA have been violated

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