Disabled veterans in Ohio would get tax break under proposed bill
The following article was originally published on News5Cleveland.com and is published in the Ohio Capital Journal under a content-sharing agreement. Unlike other OCJ articles, it is not available for free republication by other news outlets as it is owned by WEWS in Cleveland.
A proposed bill in the Ohio House would exempt disabled veterans and their surviving spouses from needing to pay property taxes.
Veterans have to deal with readjusting to civilian life once leaving the military. There are about 730 veterans in Ohio currently experiencing homelessness, according to data from Ohio’s Department of Veterans Services.
Mental illness, substance abuse, and low income are the major risk factors for homelessness among veterans, according to the Department of Veterans Affairs.
Chief Petty Officer Albert Mitchell knows those issues well. After serving the country for 20 years, Mitchell left the Navy.
“You signed up for assignments that put you in harm’s way,” Mitchell said.
He did six deployments, said his friends died, and also worked as a casualty officer — making him responsible for notifying families when a servicemember died.
The veteran dealt with and still can struggle with anxiety and with a disability called chronic adjustment disorder, which can be debilitating. He was depressed, took his feelings to the bottle and isolated himself. Having extra money on hand would have made a huge difference for him.
With inflation, some veterans have said it is hard to pay the bills, so Strongsville Republican state Rep. Tom Patton had an idea that could help.
House Bill 694 would exempt all “permanently and totally disabled” veterans from needing to pay property taxes. This disability classification is when a physical or mental illness makes the vet unable to get and keep jobs due to service-related conditions, according to the VA.
“If [vets] are on a fixed income, which is a VA benefit, and they just live month-to-month — $700 a month increase is huge,” Mitchell said, using the $700 as a hypothetical.
That money could have helped keep vets on their feet and in their homes or they could have used that extra money to get help or food. Mitchell said this bill is a good start, but lawmakers need to start doing more.
“If they get out, put their boots on the ground, and go out and meet people where they are, then [the lawmakers] will appreciate and fight harder for them,” he added.
Back in May, lawmakers killed a bill that would have helped provide funding to ensure every veteran in Ohio had housing. The funding from that bill would have ensured that smaller shelters have sufficient funds to provide adequate care for each vet.
The bill sponsor, state Rep. Jennifer Gross (R-West Chester) killed the bill because she said it was “not needed,” which angered veterans around the state and led to immense backlash.
Taxes would also be exempt for a homeowner who is 65 years of age or older, or a surviving spouse who is at least 59 years old and whose partner previously received the exemption.
As of right now, there is a property tax credit for the residence, or “homestead,” of disabled vets. The standard exemption is up to $25,000 of the true home value.
There is also an extended version of up to $50,000 for homes of honorably discharged military vets with a total disability and surviving spouses of emergency responders who died in the line of duty. Now, this new proposed law completely exempts a disabled veteran’s home from taxes.
There would still be an application requirement, which is standard. Financially, the local taxing units would be reimbursed by the state for the reduction in property tax revenue.
The bill was introduced this summer, so it is possible it could be heard after the election. As of right now, there are no public opponents to the bill – just people asking for more of this type of help.
“Having no property taxes?” Mitchell asked. “That is a life changer, a game changer.”