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The Value of Their Service

Virginia Question Two is reintroduced after a tumultuous 2019. Here’s what it entails, and how it compares to other states.

Along with choosing candidates for office this November, Virginians will vote to either allow or disallow a tax break for veterans whose bodies have been permanently changed because of their military obligations.

Joseph Acosta

According to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, Virginia was home to more than 738,635 veterans as of 2018, 21 percent of whom are Black. One particular amendment may be important to them this year.

The Motor Vehicle Property Tax Exemption for Disabled Veterans Amendment, also called Virginia Question Two, is one of two proposed amendments to the state Constitution on the ballot this year. If passed — it requires a simple majority of voters — any veteran with a service-connected, total and permanent disability could exempt one or more of their automobiles from state and local property taxes.

In other words, any veteran with a disability stemming from military service would have one or more of their cars or trucks exempt from taxation on their vehicle prior to Jan. 1 of next year.

A dispute between the state House of Representatives and the Virginia Senate turned the proposed law into a mandate when lawmakers first considered it in 2019. The Senate wanted the exemption to be mandatory for every county in the state, but the House preferred that counties choose.

Both the Virginia Association of Counties and the Virginia Municipal League objected to the tax exemption, citing an already-in-place one provided for disabled veterans and their spouses.

Lawmakers signed the previous tax exemption into law in 2011, giving veterans a break on “the principal dwelling and up to three acres for veterans with a 100%, service-connected, total and permanent disability.” This amendment means that veterans who sustained disabilities during their service wouldn’t have to pay taxes on their primary place where they live.

Supporters of the bill include the Virginia Democrats of Arlington, who posted a resolution supporting the bill on their website in early September. Their statement claims the personal property tax can sometimes serve as an undue burden for disabled veterans. Other states have similar amendments. In Georgia, veterans who are “verified by The Department of Veterans Affairs to be 100 percent totally and permanently service-connected disabled,” are eligible to receive an exemption on one vehicle.

Massachusetts’ veterans must meet the requirements set by the state’s Medical Advisory Board for the Registry of Motor Vehicles in order to be exempt from paying sales tax on one vehicle.

Next: As vital as voting is to democracy, the rules and regulations around doing so can be difficult to remember. Here are some tips for anyone who hasn’t already cast their vote.