Virginia Property Tax Exemption for Veterans, Question 2 (2010)

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A Virginia Property Tax Exemption for Veterans statewide ballot question appeared on the November 2, 2010 ballot in Virginia as a legislatively-referred constitutional amendment where it was approved.

The amendment asked voters of Virginia if they would approve or reject a property tax exemption for an armed forces veteran or their surviving spouse if the veteran had a 100 percent permanent and total disability related to military service.

On April 29, 2010, Governor Bob McDonnell signed into law the constitutional amendment that was placed on the November 2, 2010 ballot.[1]

Election results

See also: 2010 ballot measure election results
Virginia Question 2 (Veterans Property Tax Exemption)
ResultVotesPercentage
Approveda Yes 1,734,109 82.4%
No370,24417.6%

Source: Virginia State Board of Elections. The results were certified on November 22, 2010[2]

Text of measure

Title

The ballot question read:[3]

Shall the Constitution be amended to require the General Assembly to provide a real property tax exemption for the principal residence of a veteran, or his or her surviving spouse, if the veteran has a 100 percent service-connected, permanent, and total disability?

Constitutional changes

The measure amended Section 6A of Article X, it reads as follows:[4]. The amendment will go into effect on January 1, 2011.

ARTICLE X, TAXATION AND FINANCE

Section 6-A. Property tax exemption for certain veterans.

Notwithstanding the provisions of Section 6, the General Assembly by general law, and within the restrictions and conditions prescribed therein, shall exempt from taxation the real property, including the joint real property of husband and wife, of any veteran who has been determined by the United States Department of Veterans Affairs or its successor agency pursuant to federal law to have a one hundred percent service-connected, permanent, and total disability, and who occupies the real property as his or her principal place of residence. The General Assembly shall also provide this exemption from taxation for real property owned by the surviving spouse of a veteran who was eligible for the exemption provided in this section, so long as the surviving spouse does not remarry and continues to occupy the real property as his or her principal place of residence.

Summary

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The official summary from the Virginia Board of Elections on the proposed amendment follows:

Explanation

Currently, the Virginia Constitution does not grant real estate tax exemptions specifically to veterans. However, the Constitution does allow the General Assembly to give localities the power to grant full or partial exemptions from real estate taxes to persons 65 years of age or older or for persons permanently and totally disabled who "bear an extraordinary tax burden" in relation to their income and financial worth. This exemption applies to owner-occupied property used as the sole dwelling of such persons[4].

Proposed amendment

The proposed amendment would require the General Assembly to pass a law exempting from local taxation the principal residence owned and occupied by any veteran with a one hundred percent service-connected, permanent, and total disability. The veteran's surviving spouse could continue to claim the exemption so long as he or she does not remarry and continues to occupy the home as his or her principal residence[4].

Support

  • Arlington County Democratic Committee[5].
  • The Virginia Department of Veterans Services and organizations that are members of the Joint Leadership Council of Veterans Service Organizations supported Question 2 and reportedly made it a priority for 2010[1]. Some of the organizations included:
  • Air Force Association
  • American Ex-Prisoners of War
  • American Legion
  • AMVETS
  • Association of the U.S. Army
  • Disabled American Veterans
  • Fleet Reserve Association
  • Korean War Veterans Association
  • Legion of Valor of the U.S., Inc.
  • Marine Corps League
  • Military Officers Association of America
  • Military Order of the Purple Heart
  • Military Order of the World Wars
  • National Association of Uniformed Services
  • Navy Seabee Veterans of America
  • Non-Commissioned Officers Association
  • Paralyzed Veterans of America
  • Reserve Officers Association
  • Roanoke Valley Veterans Council
  • Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW)
  • Vietnam Veterans of America
  • Virginia Department of Veterans Services[1].
  • Virginia National Guard Association
  • Women Marines Association[6].
  • Republican Party of Virginia[7].

Opposition

There was no known opposition to the measure.

Non-partisan ratings

National Taxpayers Union

Although the National Taxpayers Union did not officially endorse Question 2, the organization rated the measure as one that could control taxes and spending in its 2010 voter guide[8]

Media Editorial Positions

See also: Endorsements of Virginia ballot measures, 2010

Support

  • The Loudoun Times supported Question 2. The newspaper was in support of any ballot measure that controled taxes for a "vulnerable segment of society," including veterans, and returned control of taxing decisions to local governments[9].
  • The Virginian Pilot (Hampton Roads) supported Question 2. Although the newspaper said that voter approval of Question 2 was the right thing to do, they also expressed skepticism of how voter approval of the question would impact local budgets[10].
  • The Washington Post supported question 2. The newspaper's editorial board favored automatic exemptions on state property taxes to veterans and their family members that met certain criteria. Also, The Post said that voter approval of Question 2 was on target with Governor Bob McDonnell's goal to make Virginia a veteran friendly state[11].

Opposition

There were no newspaper editorial boards in opposition to question 2.

Campaign contributions

There were no committees registered to support or oppose the referendum[12].

According to state law, any organization that planned to influence a statewide measure was not required to register with the State Board of Elections until meeting the minimum $10,000 registration threshold. A committee, however, was required to register with the Board if they planned to raise or spend more than $10,000[13]. The $10,000 threshold had been in law since 2004[14].

Path to the ballot

See also: How the Virginia Constitution is amended

A majority vote was required (in two successive sessions) of the Virginia General Assembly. The House version of the bill passed unanimously on a 99-0 vote on February 15, 2010, and passed the Virginia State Senate on a 39-0 vote on February 26, 2010[15]. The constitutional amendment was signed as part of 27 total pieces of legislation the Governor approved to improve services to veterans and their families in Virginia.[1]

See also

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