• P.O. Box 65900 Washington, D.C. 20035-5900
  • 202-257-5446
  • P.O. Box 65900 Washington, D.C. 20035-5900
  • 202-257-5446

January 21, 2014

Sgt. Shaft caricatureDear Sgt. Shaft,
My husband and I live in New Hanover County in NC. I am hoping you can shed some light on this situation. My husband was a Marine and now has ALS. He has a specially adapted vehicle paid for with the two grants the VA offers for the van itself and the adaptation.

I am aware of this benefit: “Certain Vehicles. A motor vehicle owned by a disabled veteran that is altered with special equipment to accommodate a service-connected disability. As used in this section, disabled veteran means a person as defined in 38 U.S.C. § 101(2) who is entitled to special automotive equipment for a service-connected disability.”

When we lived in Durham County in NC his van was exempt from taxes. Now that we live in New Hanover County NC he received a tax bill for the van. I called the tax office and the woman said “honey, there are no exceptions for veterans and vehicles, you must mean something the DMV gives you”. She means the disabled veteran plate that he doesn’t have to pay for. She made me so angry with her condescending tone that I’m not letting it go until I exhaust this issue.

My question – is the vehicle exemption benefit a statute in NC that applies to all counties? Or does each county have the right to make their own tax law regarding this exemption? If so does this mean they don’t have to offer one.

I called the state veteran office and she had no idea. I called the VSO in this area and he had no idea. Other than seeing this listed a state benefit I can find no clear law regarding it.

Before I reach out to county legislators and the tax king (administrator) I am trying to get my Ps & Qs together so any information you can send me is greatly appreciated.

Mrs. W
New Hanover County, NC

Dear Mrs. W,
I referred your missive to those in the know at the Department of Veterans Affairs and they responded as follows:

“We called Mrs. Ward in response to her inquiry. The Veteran is seeking property tax relief for his vehicle, which has been adapted with special equipment to accommodate a service-connected disability.

“Mrs. Ward indicated that after she visited the tax aministrators office, her problem has been resolved. The tax bill on the van has been exempted.

“I asked Mrs. Ward to call me in the future if she needs assistance.”

Shaft Notes
• Congressman Gus M. Bilirakis (R-FL) today joined his colleagues in the U.S. House of Representatives in supporting legislation to set federal government spending levels for the 2014 Fiscal Year.

“With today’s vote, the House came together in a bi-partisan fashion to cut spending and put our country’s fiscal house on a stable and secure path – all while not raising taxes on the American people,” said Bilirakis. “In passing this legislation, we have made the tough decisions this country needs: prioritizing our spending, protecting our troops and veterans, cutting wasteful programs, and giving all hardworking Americans certainty.”

Among the bill’s provisions are the following:

  • Full pensions for medically retired (disabled) military personnel and survivor benefit plan recipients.
  • No new or additional funding for Obamacare. The bill also cuts $10 million from the Independent Payment Advisory Board and prevents the Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services from siphoning a $1 billion Obamacare slush fund.
  • A one-year delay of the flood insurance rate increases for newly mapped properties.
  • A GAO feasibility study for Medicare smart cards, which would lay the framework for Congress to implement a provision within the Medicare Abuse Prevention (MAP) Act, legislation the Congressman sponsored to reduce fraud in the Medicare program.

Since Republicans took control of the House in 2010, federal spending has been cut by $165 billion. Furthermore, for the first time since the Korean War, spending has been cut four years in a row.

• The Sarge joins the Military Officers Association of America (MOAA) in its support of the Veterans Health and Benefits Improvement Act, S.1950, the Comprehensive Veterans Health and Benefits and Military Retirement Pay Restoration Act of 2014.

“This legislation, based primarily on the bi-partisan Senate Veterans Benefits Omnibus, S. 944, offers comprehensive and much needed solutions for our returning warriors, veterans, survivors and family members,” MOAA President Vice Adm Norb Ryan said.

“MOAA deeply appreciates the inclusion of a provision in S. 1950 that repeals the unfair 1% COLA Cut of the earned pensions of working age military retirees established in the Balanced Budget Act,” he added.

The legislation also addresses a number of major MOAA priorities for veterans including:

  • Extension of advance appropriations authority to more accounts (beyond health care) in Dept. of Veterans Affairs accounts
  • Authorization for in-state tuition rates at public colleges for all student veterans using the new GI Bill
  • Honoring as veterans certain career Reserve members eligible for reserve retired pay
  • Authorization for Iraq and Afghanistan surviving spouses to the Post-9/11 GI Bill via the “Gunnery Sgt. John D. Fry Scholarship Program”
  • Retention of DIC by eligible widows who remarry at age 55
  • Improved care and services for veterans who were sexually assaulted in military service
  • Extension of VA health care enrollment opportunity for OIF-OEF veterans from 5 to 10 years
  • Renewal of the VOW to Hire Heroes Act veterans retraining assistance program
  • Requirement for more timely claims backlog reporting

“These and other measures provide a strong foundation for our nation’s veterans after more than a dozen years of war in Iraq and Afghanistan,” Ryan stated.

“MOAA is very appreciative of the growing support in both chambers to repeal the grossly unfair COLA cut on earned military retirees’ pensions. The means of accomplishing that objective is up to leaders in both parties and we strongly support a bi-partisan solution as soon as possible to restore the full pensions of those who have dearly earned them in service to the nation,” Ryan concluded.

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