Disabled Veterans Tax Exemption
By Commissioner of the Revenue RAY CONNER
At the general election held on November 2, 2010, the voters of our state overwhelmingly approved an amendment to Article X of the Virginia Constitution whereby armed forces veterans rated by the United States Department of Veterans Affairs (V.A.) as having a 100%, permanent and total, service-connected disability would be exempt from paying real estate taxes on their primary residence.
As a result of the passage of this referendum question, the General Assembly enacted legislation to implement this real estate tax exemption. In turn, the Chesapeake City Council took action to enact this state mandate effective with the tax year beginning on July 1, 2011.
The exemption is based on the veteran’s disability rating from the V.A. rather than the level of compensation. In Chesapeake, the exemption includes property held jointly by a husband and wife and applies to the residence and up to three acres of land. The exemption is also extended in particular situations when legal ownership of the principal residence is held in a trust or jointly with other persons.
The surviving spouse of a qualified veteran is eligible for the exemption if the death of the veteran occurred on or after January 1, 2011, and the surviving spouse does not remarry and continues to occupy the same real property as his/her principal place of residence. The surviving spouse is required to provide verification from the V.A. that his/her spouse was a qualified veteran at the time of death.
Chesapeake has maintained a real estate tax relief program for elderly and/or disabled homeowners since 1972. Eligibility for this tax relief program is based on the homeowner not exceeding certain income and net resource parameters. The tax exemption for disabled veterans is not a program and eligibility is not means-tested. So long as a disabled veteran is rated by the V.A. as having a 100%, permanent and total, service-connected disability, he/she will be exempt from real estate taxes on their residence regardless of their income or the assessed value of their home.
Since the disabled veterans’ real estate tax exemption became law in 2011, Chesapeake has qualified approximately 420 veterans and/or surviving spouses and currently exempts about $1.1 million dollars in taxes annually.
Generally, applying for this real estate tax exemption is a one-time process. However, an applicant must report any changes in residency, disability status, ownership of the residence, marital status, death of an owner, or other pertinent information that could impact this exemption.
When applying for this real estate tax exemption, a critical document that the veteran is required to present is the original letter of 100% permanent and total disability from the V.A. noting that it is service-connected. The veteran should also produce photo identification, and proof of residence occupancy such as a current utility bill. The veteran’s real estate tax records will be reviewed to determine that they are the current owners of the property.
For additional information on this tax exemption, disabled veterans should contact the Commissioner of the Revenue’s Office at (757) 382-6698 or (757) 382-6455. We are glad to answer any questions and stand ready to assist. Our door is always open!