Disabled veterans weigh in on future after defeat of property tax relief legislation
By MADISON HIRNEISEN
THE CENTER SQUARE
(The Center Square) — California lawmakers quietly killed a bill this month that would have offered property tax exemptions to 100% disabled veterans, leaving some military veterans wondering whether or not they can afford to stay in the Golden State.
Senate Bill 1357 would have offered property tax exemptions on the home of a 100% disabled veteran and his or her unmarried surviving spouse or spouse. The measure fell victim to the holding docket, a biannual process where lawmakers review hundreds of tax bills and quietly kill or pass measures without public discussion.
The measure would have represented a significant departure from the state’s existing property tax exemption for disabled veterans, which currently allows an exemption of an amount equal to the value of the property up to $100,000. adjusted for inflation. If the household income is less than $40,000, the exemption is increased to $150,000.
The full tax exemption would have applied exclusively to 100% disabled veterans who own a home in California. In total, just over 73,000 veterans who had a service-related disability rating of 100% lived in California, according to data from the US Department of Veterans Affairs. California’s total veteran population exceeds 1.8 million, according to census data.
The bill’s author, Sen. Bob Archuleta, a veteran himself and chairman of the Senate Committee on Military Veterans, told The Center Square that lawmakers held the bill in the pending docket in because of its fiscal cost. According to an analysis of the bill, SB 1357 was likely to result in lost property tax revenue “of more than $33.2 million” that would be split equally between local tax agencies and the state’s general fund. .
“I knew [the cost] was going to be a hurdle, but I had no idea it would actually prevent the bill from coming out of the appropriations,” said Archuleta Sen. D-Pico Rivera.
Disabled veterans across the state lent their support to the measure as it propagated through the Legislature, believing that if passed, it would offer some relief from the high cost of homeownership. and would provide an incentive to continue living in California.
“We’ve had hundreds and hundreds of phone calls from veterans, not just in California, but actually outside of California, from places like Florida, Texas, Arizona, [saying] they want to come back to California because the cost of living would be somewhat adjusted, and if they didn’t have to pay property tax as disabled veterans, they could come back,” Senator Archuleta said.
Several other states, including Arkansas, Delaware, Florida, Maryland and Texas, already offer full property tax exemptions for 100% disabled veterans. Without the exemption available in the Golden State, disabled veterans say they are considering leaving California for a more affordable location.
“Things aren’t exactly getting better in the state of California financially and it’s very expensive to live here,” said Michael Barrett, a retired Navy veteran and 100% disabled who lives in Rancho Santa. Margarita at The Center Square. “Owning in the state of California is extremely expensive to maintain.”
Had that bill passed, Mr Barrett said it would have “solidified” his reason for staying in California.
“Myself and all of my buddies still have conversations to this day — even as early as last night with my own wife — about possibly leaving California,” he added.
Mr Barrett said he and his family loved California and didn’t want to leave, but every day it becomes ‘harder every day to maintain that dream of living, retiring and staying in California’ .
Torrance Chaplin, another fully disabled veteran, told The Center Square that if SB 1357 had been passed, it would have likely saved him more than $10,000 a year in taxes.
In his work as a financial broker, Mr. Chaplin has several clients who would have qualified for the exemption and were considering postponing moves to other states with full exemptions if SB 1357 were passed.
“That was one of the big deciding factors for one of my clients who told me about the bill,” the San Diego resident said. “He was considering moving to Texas because of it, and then when he found out about the bill, he kind of canceled his plan, saying, ‘Okay, I’ll keep it quiet in California.’ “
Mr. Chaplin lamented the defeat of the bill, questioning the state’s interest in spending more money on measures such as the expansion of the film and television tax credit when ” these guys mostly make money.”
With the legislative session due to end on August 31, Senator Archuleta said it was too late to advance a similar proposal this year, but he hopes to introduce a similar bill in the future. To give the proposal a better chance of passing the Legislative Assembly next time, Senator Archuleta said more committee members should be educated about the effect of “doing [veterans] feel that they are part of this nation, that they are part of this state of California, that they are appreciated and recognized.
“Our California veterans are struggling with high housing costs, just like anyone else, and so we need to do more to bring our veterans back and keep our veterans here in California,” Senator Archuleta said.
Mr. Barrett and Mr. Chaplin both said they and other disabled veterans would support a similar bill in a future legislative session, but noted that the incentive to move to d other states that already offer the exemption is strong.
“Other states seem to appreciate and honor this service and sacrifice,” Barrett said. “That’s the exact terminology I’ve heard time and time again here – there is no sense of appreciation for those who have endured protecting our nation’s freedom here in the State of California. “