New Jersey voters will decide whether all veterans who live in the state — not only those who only served during a time of war — should be eligible for an annual $250 property tax deduction.
The state Senate and Assembly on Monday approved a measure that will put the question on November’s ballot.
“Everyone who has served our nation and worn our country’s uniform should be respected and recognized as such,” state Sen. Christopher “Kip” Bateman, R-Somerset, said in a statement.
“Our brave veterans who sacrificed life and limb to defend our freedoms we hold dear deserve to receive a tax break,” Bateman added. "Expanding New Jersey’s property tax deduction to our Garden State veterans who honorably served is our small way of saying ‘thank you for your service.’”
The deduction was created by a constitutional amendment, which is why it needs to go before voters before any changes could be made.
The measure passed the state Senate 40-0 and the Assembly 72-0 at the Statehouse in Trenton.
The non-partisan state Office of Legislative Services estimates the benefit would cost the state $13.6 million the first year it would go into effect, $13 million the second year and $12.4 million the third year.
It estimates more than 53,000 peacetime veterans would qualify for the deduction.
The benefit would also extend to the widow or widower of any peacetime veteran.
The question on the ballot will appear as follows:
Do you approve amending the Constitution to give a $250 property tax deduction to veterans who did not serve in time of war? Do you also approve amending the Constitution to give a 100 percent property tax exemption to certain totally disabled veterans who did not serve in time of war?
The widow or widower of these veterans also would receive this $250 deduction or 100 percent exemption after the veteran’s death.
In November, voters overwhelmingly supported a measure that made sure veterans who live in continuing care retirement communities could take advantage of a $250 a year property tax break.
Veterans who live in these types of communities weren’t able to take advantage of the deduction because of the way they are required to file their taxes.