A new law enabling towns to extend the veterans’ tax credit to all veterans, whether from wartime or peace, has some area officials wondering about the impact on other taxpayers, while others say the service is long overdue for those who served.
RSA 72:28 currently allows the standard deduction of up to $500 for veterans who served in the following wars or conflicts: Spanish-American War, Philippine Insurrection, Boxer Rebellion, World Wars I and II, Korean and Vietnam conflicts, Persian Gulf War and “any other war or armed conflict that has occurred since May 8, 1975, in which the resident earned an Armed Forces expeditionary medal or Theater of Operations service medal.
A new law, RSA 72:28b, was signed into law by former Gov. Maggie Hassan. The law’s primary sponsor was outgoing State Rep. Fred Rice of Hampton, who wrote in a press release, “The newly enacted law (RSA 72:28b) is exactly the same as the old one, but without the time periods.”
Rice explained, “Individuals can volunteer to enter the military, but they have little or no say as to where or when they will actually serve. All veterans should all be recognized for their service, and not be deprived of a benefit because of something they had no control over.”
The legislation is “enabling legislation,” meaning that each municipality in the state must formally adopt the All Veterans Tax Credit by a vote of town meeting or equivalent in order for it to take affect in that town, Rice further wrote.
According to Rice, the time periods that will be eliminated under the new option are those that fall between “periods of conflict,” such as from the end of WWII to the start of the Korean War, from the end of Korea to the start of Vietnam, and from the end of Vietnam to the invasion of Grenada.
Rice further explained, “Not everyone who was deployed was necessarily in combat, however. Only ten percent of those in uniform ever see combat, according to government statistics. Naval crews at sea, support troops at logistics installations or air bases, and administrative, legal and medical personnel are examples of those who may have served “in country” and are eligible for the current tax credit, but were never in danger of enemy action.”
Londonderry offers the standard deduction of $500, plus $2,000 to any veteran who is permanently and totally disabled as a result of their service.
Council Chair John Farrell said in a phone interview Thursday that the Council is waiting for more information from the state before taking any action on the new option.
Farrell explained, “We don’t have a position on this at the moment. The state has passed down the information.” While the new law isn’t an unfunded mandate, it is an unfunded option, and Farrell said the Council wants to see how implementing the law will affect Londonderry taxpayers before taking a stand.
Alfred Baldasaro, a Republican state rep from Londonderry and a retired Marine sergeant active in local, state and national veterans’ issues, said he is cosponsor of a bill working its way through the Legislature that would modify Rice’s bill, phasing the amount in over a three-year period “so the towns don’t get hit all at once.”
“We are going to try to fast-track the legislation, so cities and towns will be able to have it on the warrant next year,” Baldasaro said.
Baldasaro is in favor of his town and others adopting Rice’s amendment, noting, “All veterans should be treated the same.”