ROMNEY EXPANDS TAX BENEFITS FOR DISABLED VETERANS
Governor Mitt Romney signed legislation today that provides disabled Massachusetts veterans with extensive tax exemptions as well as financial relief for the families of servicemen and women killed or missing in action.
The bill also allows local communities to suspend without interest local real estate taxes of active duty National Guardsmen and reservists until 180 days after they return home.
"One of the highest duties of government is our obligation to take care of the men and women who defend this nation. This legislation follows through on that commitment by providing additional benefits to disabled veterans, as well as to the families of soldiers killed or missing in action," said Governor Mitt Romney.
Current property tax exemptions that range, depending on the extent of the disability, from $250 to $950 per year for veterans will be increased to between $400 and $1,500.
In addition, the legislation increases the reimbursement for those exemptions that the Commonwealth provides to the home communities of the veterans and their families. The lowest reimbursement of $75 now goes to $400, while the highest increases from $775 to $1,325.
Surviving spouses of veterans killed or missing in action since 9/11 will receive full property tax exemptions for five years. A $2,500 annual exemption will be granted after five years.
"This legislation demonstrates the Commonwealth's continuing recognition of the sacrifices made by Massachusetts veterans and their families, especially those with disabilities who remain a constant reminder of their service to all of us," said Massachusetts Veterans' Services Secretary Tom Kelley.
The Massachusetts Military Enhanced Relief Individual Tax (MERIT) Plan also honors the memory of U.S. Army veteran Edward G. Connolly, an eight-term state representative from Everett who died in May.
"The Representative Edward G. Connolly Massachusetts MERIT Plan is as generous to our veterans and current service members as Representative Connolly always aimed to be in his fifty years of public service," said state Rep. Anthony J. Verga, House chair of the Joint Committee on Veterans and Federal Affairs. "The benefits in this bill are a small part of the thanks we owe to our men and women in uniform and their families who sacrifice so much to ensure our freedoms."
"This is a fine and lasting tribute to a wonderful legislator and an exemplary patriot," said Senator Stephen M. Brewer. "As the Senate chair of the Veterans and Federal Affairs Committee, I have given my undivided attention to all veterans in the Commonwealth by helping to pass legislation benefiting our heroes time and time again."
The bill signed today by the governor also extends sales and vehicle excise tax exemptions to all veterans who qualify for a Disabled Veteran license plate.
Less than a year ago, Governor Romney signed veterans' legislation that provided a wide array of benefits, including bonuses to Massachusetts servicemen and women on active duty since 9/11, exempting Guard members from fees at public colleges and universities, increasing death benefits paid to families of Guard members killed in the line of duty from $5,000 to $100,000 and creating a $2,000 annuity for Gold Star spouses and parents as well as 100 percent disabled veterans.