By Brandon Mullens
INDIANAPOLIS – A Senate committee passed a bill Tuesday that would expand the number of disabled veterans who qualify for a property tax cut.
Senate Bill 135 would increase the amount a home can be worth for a veteran to qualify for the deduction by more than $40,000. Only veterans who have a total disability – or those who have at least a 10 percent disability and are also at least the age of 62 – are eligible.
Sen. Douglas Eckerty, R-Yorktown, and Sen. Travis Holdman, R-Markle, introduced the bill.
“It basically takes the residential property limit for disabled veterans from $143,000 to $195,000 in one movement,” Holdman said. “Currently there’s no cost of living adjustment moving forward, so we either have to do that in the process, or we’ll have to come back and visit this every three or four years.”
Beginning with taxes payable in 2015, the legislation would provide a deduction to an estimated 3,900 more totally disabled veterans. The total amount of the deductions could increase by about $49 million, an amount that would generally be paid by other property owners.
“Five or six years ago, we set that level for the homestead deduction for disabled veterans and we never changed it,” Holdman said. “We didn’t pay any kind of cost of living adjustment, or didn’t index it in any fashion. So this is just a make up of those six years.”
Ron Martin, chairman of the Military Veterans Coalition of Indiana, said he was in favor of the bill because it is one way to recognize the veterans in this state.
“This is long overdue,” Martin said. “We would’ve preferred it to not have a cap at all because the cap is based on the average, so we’re saying this is good for the below average home values.”
Martin also said he is glad the Senate Tax and Fiscal Policy Committee passed the bill unanimously because the veterans should be honored and should be given every opportunity to obtain tax benefits.
The bill now moves to the full House for consideration.
Brandon Mullens is a reporter at TheStatehouseFile.com, a news website powered by Franklin College journalism students.