Town to Extend Tax Exemption for Cold War Vets

Credits: Metro Creative Connection

MAHOPAC, N.Y.— After a recent change in the law at the state level, the Town Board was expected this week to pass a resolution that would extend property tax exemptions for Cold War veterans.

To qualify, veterans must have been on full active duty during the Cold War period of Sept. 2, 1945, through Dec. 26, 1991.

Town assessor Glenn Droese gave a presentation to the board at its meeting last week and recommended that it adopts the changes.

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“The law was recently changed allowing for the current duration [of the exemption] of 10 years be extended by local option for as long as the veteran is qualified,” Droese told the board. “Currently, we have 111 Cold War veteran exemptions on the assessment roll. Some of these exemptions will expire on the 2018 assessment roll if this local option is not adopted.”

When the state created the law, it allowed each municipality, county and school district the option to adopt it and set the exemption. In Carmel, the exemption is 15 percent of the value of the property.

Ownership requirements for the exemptions include:

• Legal title to residential property must be in the name of the veteran, spouse of a veteran, or the un-remarried surviving spouse of a veteran;

• If the property is owned by more than one qualified owner, the exemption benefits of each qualified owner may be combined;

• Legal title may also be in the name of a veteran, spouse of the veteran, or un-remarried surviving spouse of a veteran whenever such a person is a life tenant of the property; if title transfers to a trust, such a person becomes a trustee or beneficiary of such trust.

Residency requirements include:

• Exemption applies only to property used exclusively for residential purposes; if a portion of the property is in non-residential use, the exemption can’t apply to this portion;

• Property eligible for this exemption must be the primary residence of the veteran or the un-remarried surviving spouse of the Cold War veteran unless that person is absent from the property for medical reasons or is in an institution;

• If the qualifying veteran is deceased, the exemption may continue on the eligible property if the title to the property is in the name of the veteran’s un-remarried surviving spouse, and continues to use the property as the primary residence;

• If the veteran is also the un-remarried surviving spouse of a veteran, he or she may also receive any exemption benefit to which the deceased spouse was entitled;

• Municipalities have the option to offer the exemption for eligible veterans in cooperative apartments.

“Absolutely, we have no problem at all and want the veterans to get the all the benefits they deserve,” Supervisor Ken Schmitt said of the proposal.

Councilman Jonathan Schneider, the only veteran on the Town Board, said he hoped the Mahopac Board of Education will act similarly.

“I hope that the school board follows suit,” he said. “I hope this gets revisited by the schools and they do everything they can.”

Town attorney Greg Folchetti noted that a public hearing will be necessary because adopting the change would become an amendment to Chapter 137 of the town code. He said he would have a draft of the proposed modification ready for the next board meeting, at which time the board can schedule the public hearing, which would likely be in late October.

“If you do it within the last quarter of the year, you are well within the time frame [to have the exemption included on the 2018 assessment role],” he said.

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