Gov. Rick Snyder has signed a bill that will provide a significant tax break for some of the state's disabled veterans, but those who qualify will have to hurry to be eligible for it in 2014.
The new law makes veterans who are diagnosed to be 100 percent disabled, or unemployable, tax exempt from property taxes on their homestead. They also could be eligible if they have received or are receiving pecuniary assistance due to disability for specialty housing. Spouses of deceased veterans also could see there property taxes waived.
Alpena County Equalization Director John Hippensteel said the necessary applications are available on the county's website, or on the state's. He said the only problem is people only have until late Monday or early Tuesday to get the needed information into their local assessor. He said the board of review will consider the applications on Tuesday and if the deadline is missed, veterans will have to wait until next year to reapply.
"I'm suggesting the veterans get there information in sometime Monday so the board will have it when the boards meet on Tuesday," Hippensteel said. "You might be OK if you drop it off before the board meets Tuesday, but if you are too late you will have to wait until next year."
As good as it is that the state has provided tax relief to the veterans and their spouses, the counties may suffer another loss of revenue that is much needed to offset rising expenses. Hippensteel said he didn't think there would be many local veterans who would qualify, until he talked to Veterans Counselor Dan Cox who told him there are at least a couple hundred who would qualify and even more when you figure in spouses.
"I think it could be a fairly significant loss of the tax roll for the county," Hippensteel said. "This year it may not be as bad because of the short notice and the deadline to apply is so close, but next year I would imagine there could be a lot more and that could hurt the county."
The tax break only apply to the home the veteran is living in and not for secondary property such as hunting camps, cottages or businesses. Applicants who beat the deadline and receive the tax break will have to reapply next year.
Steve Schulwitz can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 358-5689. Follow Steve on Twitter ss_alpenanews. Read his blog, Upon Further Review ... at www.thealpenanews.com.