While U.S. veterans served in the armed forces in order for America to remain the land of the free, it doesn't mean their land is tax free. Veterans have to pay property taxes on their homes, though most states allows for an exemption of some of the taxes owed. How much of exemption varies from state to state, as do the specific types of veterans who are granted the exemption. For state-specific information, you should contact the state's department of revenue.
Disabled military veterans are one group of veterans that often receives a property tax exemption. The Texas comptroller called it doing the right thing for veterans "who have served their country and paid a heavy price." The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs criteria for being unemployable or a 100 percent disability rating are generally used to determine if the veteran is eligible as a disabled veteran to receive the exemption.
Some states predicate their property tax exemption on whether the veteran served during wartime or in a combat zone. New York calls it an alternative veterans' exemption. Veterans who served during a recognized period of war can get a 15-percent exemption off their assessed property value and veterans who served in a combat zone can get an additional 10-percent exemption.
Spouses of Veterans
A few programs will extend their property tax exemption to the surviving spouses of veterans. Wisconsin is one state that does this, but it also requires that certain criteria be met. The surviving spouse must have been married to an eligible veteran (disabled, 65 or older and entered the service in Wisconsin), remain unmarried and the spouse must have died in the line of duty. The program is being slowly expanded to include more veterans and surviving spouses by reducing the residency requirement, eliminating the age requirement and including disabled veterans.
Some of the exemption programs have caveats to them that the veterans need to understand. They may apply to state and local property taxes but not the school property tax. They might only apply to a primary residence and not other property. Make sure to read all of the conditions of the exemption. Finally, these programs are not automatically applied to your property taxes. You must submit an application for the exemption, sometimes annually.
Some programs ask you to show documentation of your service when you apply for the exemption. This may include you Form DD-214, discharge orders, VA disability rating or other official paperwork you have showing your service. You will probably also need to show proof, such as the deed, that you are the homeowner.
- New York Office of Real Property Tax Services: Veterans' Exemption Question and Answers
- Texas Comptroller of Accounts: Disabled Veterans Receive Property Tax Relief
- NO B.S. VA Loans: Veterans and Property Taxes
- Wisconsin Department of Veterans Affairs: Wisconsin Veterans and Surviving Spouses Property Tax Credit