North Carolina legislators are considering a bill that would result in a significant tax break for disabled veterans living in the state. Rep. Nelson Dollar (R-Wake) is the primary sponsor of the measure. It would grant vets a 100 percent exemption from the payment of property taxes. As written, the bill is an unfunded mandate that would not provide cities and counties an offset for the loss of tax revenue.
To qualify as a disabled veteran and be eligible for a homestead property tax exemption under North Carolina law, a person must meet certain criteria. The property owner must be a permanent North Carolina resident and legally own and occupy the residence. The property owner must be a veteran of the U.S. Armed Forces and have a service-connected disability from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, and the veteran’s character of service at separation must have been honorable or under honorable conditions. The surviving spouse of a disabled veteran may also qualify for a tax exemption. The current disabled veteran homestead exemption is the first $45,000 of the assessed property value of one’s home. Dollar’s bill would increase the exemption to 100 percent of a home’s tax value.
Cumberland County would lose $2.77 million in annual revenue if the bill becomes law. The City of Fayetteville would lose $1.17 million. Both local governing bodies have discussed the consequences of the measure with local legislators. “It is my understanding that they are working on some language to fix the unfunded mandate implications of the bill,” said Rep. John Szoka (R-Cumberland). “I am in favor of recognizing the sacrifice … disabled veterans have given in the service of our country and I think that this would be a good public policy,” Szoka added. He clarified, however, that he does not favor passing unfunded mandates down to cities and counties.
“I’d prefer the exemption be done on state income tax rather than property tax,” said Rep. Billy Richardson (D-Cumberland). “That way it would spread the burden around statewide not just on the counties that would be heavily impacted by loss of property tax revenue,” Richardson added. “Cumberland County already does so much for veterans.” The measure is in a house committee presently.
Rep. Dollar did not respond to Up & Coming Weekly’s repeated requests for comment.
Details of the property tax exemption and other services available to all veterans can be found at the Cumberland County Veterans Service Office at 301. E. Russell Street, adjacent to the courthouse. The office assists veterans and their dependents in obtaining benefits to which they are entitled by: submitting claims for benefits to the Department of Veterans Affairs; reviewing and following up on decisions of the VA for fairness and accuracy; and writing and submitting appeals to the Board of Veterans Appeals for disputed decisions. These services are always free to veterans and their dependents. Veterans services officers are available for one on one counseling Monday - Thursday 8:30 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. and on Fridays from 8:30 a.m. to 11:00 a.m.