Barrar and House and Senate Veterans Affairs and Emergency Preparedness Committees Consider Changes to the Veterans Real Estate Tax Exemption Program
10/26/2015
HARRISBURG – Rep. Steve Barrar (R-Chester/Delaware), majority chairman of the House Veterans Affairs and Emergency Preparedness Committee, today hosted a public hearing with the Senate on potential changes to the Veterans Real Estate Tax Exemption Program.

“This issue is very important to our veteran community, so the committees and I want to make sure the Commonwealth is offering a strong benefit,” Barrar said. “This morning’s hearing was a great conversation about how we can do something positive to have a substantive and real impact on the lives of our veterans.”

Currently, the program provides a real estate tax exemption for veterans who have a 100 percent permanent service-connected disability rating by the Department of Veteran’s Affairs and who meet the individual financial needs threshold maximum of $87,212.

During the hearing, Barrar and committee members reviewed eight bills that would modify the current program and heard testimony from two individuals regarding their recommendations.

Brig. Gen. Jerry Beck, Deputy Adj. Gen. for Veterans Affairs, explained that he believes the program would benefit from minor adjustments but does not require a complete overhaul. The first modification he suggested was to expand the eligibility for the program to include spouses of veterans who were killed in action or declared missing in action. They are now ineligible because the veteran must apply for the benefit, and he or she was not a veteran before leaving to serve the country.

After explaining that while helping veterans who sustained service-related disabilities is certainly a worthwhile and noble cause, Beck shared that disabled veterans account for approximately 5 percent of veterans in the Commonwealth. His second suggestion would provide a benefit to far more veterans; Beck offered the idea of providing a state income tax rebate for all veterans who were honorably discharged with a minimum of two years of service.

Retired Col. Michael Belding, USMC, identified the unfairness of recognizing the disabilities veterans sustained only if they have a 100 percent rating and suggested that service members who are disabled between 50 percent and 100 percent receive real estate tax relief proportional to the percentage of their disability rating.

“Having heard the perspectives of two veterans who now spend their lives serving other veterans, both committees will further review detailed information,” Barrar explained. “By carefully assessing any potential changes from all angles, we hope to produce a modified program that will serve veterans in the most complete way possible.”

To view footage of the joint House and Senate Veterans’ Affairs and Emergency Preparedness public hearing, click here.

Representative Stephen E. Barrar
160th District
Pennsylvania House of Representatives
Media Contact: Alison Evans
717.260.6206
aevans@pahousegop.com
SteveBarrar.com / Facebook.com/RepBarrar
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