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More disabled veterans may get property tax relief

In a unanimous vote, the Pennsylvania Senate passed a bill that would help more disabled veterans get property tax relief.

Senate Bill 194, introduced by Sen. Tracy Pennycuick, R-Red Hill, excludes federal veterans disability benefits when calculating eligibility for the state’s property tax exemption for 100% disabled veterans.

The move, legislators argue, would mean more veterans can get property tax exemptions and peace of mind.

“Including these benefits when calculating income is preventing some disabled veterans from qualifying for property tax reductions,” Pennycuick said in a press release. “Some of the veterans receiving federal Aid and Attendance benefits have the greatest need for the property tax exemption and receive this disability benefit to assist them in paying for everyday functioning, care services, medication management and renovations to their residence to accommodate their disability.”

Most states grant property tax breaks for veterans. Pennsylvania is one of 22 states and the District of Columbia to do so for 100% disabled veterans (as determined by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs). Another 16 states give property tax breaks to veterans who are less than 100% disabled, and eight others give property tax breaks without a disability requirement.

“Many of our veterans have suffered devastating, life-changing injuries in connection with their service,” Pennycuick said in August 2023. “Each day brings a host of new challenges, including the search for medical treatment and accommodations. Worrying about whether property taxes will prevent them from staying in their homes should be the least of their concerns.”

She has also pushed for partially disabled veterans to get tiered property-assessment reductions according to their level of disability, introducing Senate Bill 844 last year. That bill, however, has not been taken up.

Though most states offer disabled veterans property tax reductions, the issue is a live one in Pennsylvania because the commonwealth has the 9th-highest property taxes in the state, according to the Tax Foundation.

When changes to the property tax do come, it’s usually in the form of targeted tax relief, rather than a general decrease. Gov. Josh Shapiro pushed through a $134 million expansion of the property tax and rent rebate program in 2023. Before the passage, the program benefited about 430,000 residents.

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