Virginia proposed Constitutional Amendment #2 asks whether or not permanently and totally disabled veterans receiving 100 percent of disability income should be exempt from paying personal property taxes on their motor vehicle.
The decision to enact that change is squarely up to Virginians casting their ballots in the upcoming November general elections.
A yes vote on Amendment #2 would allow disabled veterans of the United States armed forces or Virginia National Guard who are 100 percent permanently and totally disabled to receive a tax break on one car or pickup truck they own.
The vehicle would be exempt from taxation from the date the veteran gets the car or after January 1, 2021, whichever is later. The spouse of a disabled veteran who owns a car used by the veteran could also be exempt from property taxes.
A no vote would keep qualified veterans’ vehicles subject to state and local taxation.
Many prominent veterans in Virginia, like Republican congressional candidates Daniel Gade and Scott Taylor, support the passage of Amendment #2.
“I served in the Army for over 25 years, led hundreds of missions and patrols and was left with a lifelong disability as a result of my combat wounds,” said Gade in a statement provided to The Virginia Star. “This Constitutional Amendment is vitally important because it offers financial relief to our veterans and their families who have made incredible sacrifices defending the Constitution and homeland. I fully support the adoption of this amendment. ”
Taylor, who is running for Virginia’s 2nd Congressional District, brought up the lasting impact injuries sustained during active duty can have.
“[Injuries] can certainly affect everything, every single day your life is affected by that,” Taylor said. “There are [also] injuries that you can’t see, inside of folks’ head, and I’ve personally dealt with friends of mine and veterans who came back with PTSD or trying not to commit suicide.”
Ernie Rivera, national commander of The Military Order of the Purple Heart, a service group dedicated to helping veterans, said the tax break would be helpful to offset other costs disabled veterans and their families face because disability payments are not very large.
Nevertheless, Rivera explained that not many former military service members qualify as 100 percent permanently and totally disabled.
“When something like this looks specifically at permanent and totally disabled, it’s not a large percent of the veterans out there,” Rivera said in an interview with The Star. “So you’re not looking at it being every veteran that ever served, you’re looking at the veterans that have received the max amount of their evaluations. These are veterans that a lot of them have been wounded in combat, there has been a serious accident that happened while in the military or something of that nature.
“To get permanent and total disability, what that means is that you are never going to recover, ever.”
Rivera also said it takes many injuries or problems for a veteran to qualify as being 100 percent permanent and totally disabled.
From 2014-2018 there were roughly 685,000 veterans living in Virginia, according to data from the U.S. Census Bureau.
Under current Virginia law, residents pay two types of state property taxes: on their homes and on their cars. A passage of Amendment #2 would only make vehicles tax exempt.
Virginia has a 4.15 percent motor vehicle sales and use tax based on the vehicle’s gross sales price or $75, whichever is greater, according to the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles.
Counties and cities in Virginia also impose personal property taxes on vehicles, but the rate all depends on the specific locality and how the cars are assessed.
Take Virginia Beach, the state’s largest city, for example. The tax rate on cars is $4.00 per hundred dollars of the assessed value, which is based on the loan value from the January National Auto Dealers Association book, according to the city website.
It is unclear how large of a fiscal impact the passage of Amendment #2 would have on the Commonwealth or individual localities.
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