State Representative Tom Patton (R-Strongsville) is spearheading an effort to end property taxation for fully disabled military veterans and their surviving spouses in the Buckeye State.
According to the legislature’s official analysis of Patton’s bill, Ohio presently exempts $50,000 of the assessed value of homes owned by honorably discharged veterans who the federal Department of Veterans Affairs has given a 100-percent disability rating. Individuals so designated are considered severely impaired and unable to function professionally. A deceased veteran’s surviving wife or husband can access the exemption if the veteran received the benefit the year he or she died, lived at the residence during the veteran’s passing and continues to own that home.
Patton’s measure would broaden the current exemption to cover a homestead’s entire value. No income limit applies to the current benefit and none would apply under the representative’s legislation.
Patton says the bill cannot go forward this late in the legislative session but he hopes it will gain significant traction for passage subsequently. The representative, whose father and older brother both served in the Armed Forces, said a member of his local VFW Post 3345 in Strongsville urged him to take up this cause and noted that 19 states exempt 100-percent disabled veterans from all property taxes.
“We’d really like our disabled veterans who have given so much to know that the people of Ohio truly care about them,” he said.
According to Veterans Data Central, a website operated by the nonprofit Housing Assistance Council (HAC), Ohio’s veterans, who are over one-tenth of the state’s homeowners, face certain economic pressures at higher rates than state residents in general. Ohio Veterans do have a 4.1 percent unemployment rate and a 7.2 percent poverty rate, both below the rates of the state’s general population. Yet Ohio veterans’ median household income is currently $55,000, about $1,600 lower than the median income of all state households.
HAC also observes that an estimated 730 of the state’s veterans are homeless. The organization further opines that over one-fifth of the roughly 700,000 veterans living in the Buckeye State pay excessive rates for their housing and suggests that affordability is “the greatest housing problem among veterans.”
Homeowners — over three-quarters of the Ohio’s veteran population — can feel the problem especially acutely in certain locales. While real estate tax levels in Ohio vary according to county, the state has an average property tax rate of 1.57 percent, the 13th highest in the nation according to tax-preparation company H&R Block. Homeowners in Cuyahoga, Franklin, and Montgomery counties pay tax rates of more than two percent on average.
And when considered regionally, these levies contribute to a relatively high tax state burden, which includes a graduated personal income tax with a top rate of 3.99 percent and a sales-tax rate of 5.75 percent. Ohio’s combined state and local tax burden, effectively at 10 percent, exceeds that of four of its five bordering states, the exception being Pennsylvania whose effective tax rate is 10.6 percent.
Ohio’s local real estate taxes fund schools, law-enforcement agencies, municipal and county services and local amenities. The state reimburses localities for tax exemptions that veterans receive under current law and would cover further revenue losses that would result if Patton’s bill is enacted.
Veterans who want to acquire the partial homestead exemption already available to them must apply to their county auditor’s office and must provide the administrator with a copy of his or her discharge papers. Patton’s proposal maintains this requirement.
– – –