BY MIKE FITZGERALD
Gov. Bruce Rauner has signed into a law a bill that would provide property tax breaks to severely wounded military veterans, as well as a handful of other measures affecting veterans, including a proposal establishing a discount card.
Senate Bill 107 provides a multi-tiered set of exemptions from local property taxes for homeowners who have a service-connected injury, with a disability of at least 30 percent. Veterans with a disability of 30 to 49 percent, as certified by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, would receive a $2,500 annual exemption. Those with disabilities of between 50 to 69 percent would qualify for a $5,000 yearly exemption. And qualified homes of wounded veterans with a service-connected disability of at least 70 percent would be exempted from all property tax payments.
The law mandates that taxpayers granted an exemption under the new law must re-apply on an annual basis. The assessors or chief assessment officers for the Illinois counties where applicants live will determine the eligibility of residential property to receive the levels of tax relief implemented under the new law.
Disabled veterans already apply for tax relief through their county assessors’ office under an earlier state law, according to Jennifer Gomric-Minton, the St. Clair County assessor.
“We’re still looking into the procedures,” Gomric-Minton said.
Census figures show there are nearly 28,000 veterans with service-related disabilities in Illinois. In addition, nearly 14,000 property tax exemptions were awarded to veterans in 2013, according to the Illinois Department of Revenue.
Money to pay for the property tax breaks that SB 107 calls for will likely come in the form of a tax burden shift to other taxpayers, according to the Illinois Policy Institute, which neither supports nor opposes the measure.
Another provision of the law provides tax breaks to veterans who make accessibility upgrades to their homes, like wheelchair ramps. Such changes wouldn’t increase the assessed valuation of the property for at least seven years after improvements are made.
SB 107 sailed through the Illinois House and Senate without opposition. Both chambers voted unanimously for it before sending it to Rauner for his signature.
Rauner’s office released a statement Sunday saying six bills had been signed in honor of Veterans Day at the Illinois State Fair. including SB 107.
Contact reporter Mike Fitzgerald at firstname.lastname@example.org or 618-239-2533.