Alderman Steve McKay is optimistic that the board will pass a bill granting disabled veterans property tax credits after McKay (R) and colleagues drafted the bill at a meeting this week.
The Vice President of the Council, Michael Blue (R), the Alderman, Kai Hagen (D), and the Alderman, Jessica Fitzwater (D), are co-sponsors of the measure, with which veterans who qualify for a tax credit will have a ” “Must have 50% or more permanent service-related disability,” according to the Department of Veterans Affairs, and have an annual adjusted gross income of $ 100,000 or less.
A preliminary tax bill estimates that introducing the tax credit would cost the county about $ 1.6 million, but McKay said Friday he believes that amount will decrease because he overestimates the number of disabled veterans who are eligible for Hundreds of people would qualify.
“I don’t think this is an insurmountable obstacle,” McKay said as he persuaded his colleagues to vote for the bill despite the tax implications.
Blue said he was surprised to see the high tentative budget note, but he wholeheartedly supports McKay’s legislation despite budget balancing challenges.
“I’ll find a way to see this pass … it’s just another tough decision, but it very much reflects the values that Frederick County has,” said Blue.
Alderman Jerry Donald (D) is one of three council members who are not required to be sponsors. Donald didn’t immediately oppose the proposal, but wanted to see the final tax implications and hear from County Executive Jan Gardner (D) and her administration.
He understands McKay’s argument about helping disabled veterans, but shares his general opinion when it comes to most tax credits.
“As a rule, I prefer not to prefer one group to another when it comes to taxes, except when it comes to income,” said Donald. “I prefer to help people in need – poorer people in general – I don’t prefer to do it through work.”
The income limit set in the bill, along with several other provisions, must comply with state law passed by the Maryland General Assembly last year. The VA determines the extent to which an injury prevents veterans from seeking employment and determines the county tax credit.
Those with a Service Connected Disability Rating for Disabled Veterans of 75 to 99 percent may receive a 50 percent tax credit, and a rating of 50 to 74 percent qualifies a veteran for a 25 percent tax credit, according to McKays Invoice.
Fred Schumacher, a U.S. Army veteran and past chairman and current member of the county Veterans Council, explained the disability assessment to councilors at their meeting on Tuesday. It’s a complex process being completed by the VA to figure out what injuries could add to a veteran’s health in the long term, he said.
The disability assessment may not be obvious to civilians, said Sharon Jacko, who served in the Marine Corps in Iraq.
“Just because you see someone without a limb doesn’t mean they are disabled,” said Jacko, the current chairman of the veterans’ board. “Or just because you see someone running down the street doesn’t mean they are capable.”
At its core, the bill requires councilors to answer a simple question, McKay said: How much do you value the county’s disabled veterans?
“Personally, I put a lot of emphasis on them, and that’s why I’ve argued that the financial note is something where … I don’t care, I think that’s insignificant compared to the cost these veterans themselves caused” said McKay.
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