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NJ voters could decide to give property tax breaks to veterans who did not serve in combat

Tax Forms (Steve Buissinne/Pixabay)

New Jersey voters could get a chance to decide whether all veterans who live in the state — not only those who only served during a time of war — should be eligible for an annual $250 property tax deduction.

The state Assembly on Monday took the first necessary steps to get the question put on the ballot. Lawmakers heard brief remarks from supporters of the measure during a public hearing at the Statehouse in Trenton.

“We still have a lot to do. This is just the first step,” said Assemblywoman Cleopatra Tucker, D-Essex, referring to supporting veterans regardless of their combat experience.

The deduction was created by a constitutional amendment, which is why it needs to go before voters before any changes could be made.

“Soldiers have little say in when or where they will be deployed,” the amendment’s sponsors said in a statement.

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“When an individual signs up to serve in the military, they understand and accept that their lives may be placed at risk during their service. We must recognize and respect the bravery in their decision, regardless of whether that recruit went on to fight in a war or if they served during a time of peace.

Officials haven’t yet estimated how much the measure (ACR253) would cost if it were approved.

The benefit would also extend to the widow or widower of any peacetime veteran.

The next step for the proposal would be for the entire Assembly to vote on it and the state Senate hold a hearing and vote on the ballot question. If it gets a three-fifths majority in both chambers, the question would appear on the 2020 ballot in November.

If it makes it to the ballot, voters will be asked:

Do you approve amending the Constitution to give a $250 property tax deduction to veterans who did not serve in time of war? Do you also approve amending the Constitution to give a 100 percent property tax exemption to certain totally disabled veterans who did not serve in time of war?

The widow or widower of these veterans also would receive this $250 deduction or 100 percent exemption after the veteran’s death.

In November, voters overwhelmingly supported a measure that made sure veterans who live in continuing care retirement communities could take advantage of a $250 a year property tax break.

Veterans who live in these types of communities weren’t able to take advantage of the deduction because of the way they are required to file their taxes.

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© 2020 NJ Advance Media Group