Misinterpretation of state law prevented veterans from receiving valuable tax exemptions they deserve
Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman has announced a new effort to ensure all U.S. military veterans receive state property tax exemptions to which they are legally entitled under New York law. Schneiderman's office learned some veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan were being wrongly denied a valuable property tax exemption to which they are entitled upon conclusion of their military service.
The AG said the section of New York law creating this valuable exemption is written in a confusing way that suggests the exemption does not apply to veterans who have served in the armed forces during recent conflicts. In fact - and contrary to the guidance given by some local tax officials across the state - veterans of Iraq, Afghanistan and the global war on terror are eligible for the tax exemption, which is equal to 15 percent of the assessed value of their residential property. Many of these veterans served in a combat zone, entitling them to an additional 10 percent exemption, or 25 percent in total. This week, the AG issued a letter to county property tax officials across the state clarifying that veterans of the armed forces who served during the past 23 years do, indeed, qualify, and instructing them to ensure local officials are applying the exemption uniformly.
"Veterans who bravely served after the horrific events of 9/11 deserve the same benefits as those who served before them. Unfortunately, a confusing law left some of those service members behind, costing them and their families thousands of dollars," Schneiderman said. "This new effort will help ensure that local tax officials give military families the benefits they deserve, whether they were earned during the Korean War or the current war in Afghanistan."
The attorney general's office discovered some New York veterans who served all across the globe in past decade, and who own their homes, have been improperly denied a state veterans property tax exemption to which they are legally entitled. New York state law, like federal law, classifies all military service over the past 23 years as having taken place during the "Persian Gulf War" period. The law does not spell out that veterans of the conflicts in Afghanistan, the second Iraq War, or the Global War on Terror qualify for the tax exemption. The office found that local tax officials were unclear on the availability of this benefit and in some cases told veterans they were ineligible. This meant families could be losing out on thousands of dollars in savings a year.
This week, the attorney general's office issued a letter to county property tax officials across the state, making it clear that veterans of U.S. armed forces who served during the past 23 years qualify and instructing them to grant the tax exemptions.
For more in information on the veterans property tax exemption, call the attorney general's office at 1-800-771-7755.