This Memorial Day we remember those who have fallen fighting in the name of the United States of America. And while Ohio’s Republican Majority in the General Assembly is often fighting for tax breaks for their country club chums, I’m thankful to have a couple legislators fighting for tax breaks for those who fought for the rest of us.
Today, state Sen. Lou Gentile, D-Steubenville, introduced legislation with Senate Minority Leader Joe Schiavoni, D-Boardman, to give a tax break to military veterans. Under the terms of Senate Bill 302, any 100 percent disabled veteran would be exempt from paying all property taxes on their home.
“Ohio should prioritize giving tax relief to our disabled veterans and their families,” Gentile said in announcing the bill. “We have an obligation to help our heroes who have sacrificed so much to defend our freedom.”
Approximately 10,000 disabled Ohio veterans would be eligible for the tax exemption. This would save them an average of $1,400 per year on their primary residence. Local school districts and other jurisdictions that rely on property taxes would be reimbursed by the state.
“This tax break is a meaningful way for Ohioans to support the disabled veterans who have given so much to our state and our country,” Schiavoni said.
The legislation has bipartisan cosponsors in the Ohio Senate. Senators Schiavoni and Gentile believe caring for Ohio’s veterans should not be a Democrat or Republican issue.
“This much needed tax relief will provide more economic security to Ohio’s disabled veterans who have made a significant sacrifice while defending this nation,” Gentile added.
This proposal is similar to other legislation introduced by Gentile that would allow Ohioans who are over 65 or disabled to claim the homestead exemption, regardless of income.
Currently, only totally disabled Ohioans and seniors making less than $30,000 qualify for this exemption. Both Senators Gentile and Schiavoni have been working to expand the homestead exemption for seniors by removing the income test.
Perhaps, the Republicans who control the majority vote in both chambers of the Ohio Statehouse could honor Memorial Day by giving a tax break to soldiers who have paid in limb if not life for this country. I’d say they’ve earned it.
David DeWitt is a writer and man of sport and leisure based out of Athens, Ohio. He has also written for Government Executive online, the National Journal’s Hotline, and The New York Observer’s Politicker.com. DeWitt is the Associate Editor of The Athens NEWS. He can be found on Twitter @DC_DeWitt and on Facebook here.