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Amendment 6 aims to help surviving spouse of veterans

Spouse would be eligible for property tax until she remarries
Posted at 4:31 PM, Oct 21, 2020
and last updated 2020-10-21 17:44:39-04

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — Two amendments on the general election ballot pertain to property taxes, and one of them could directly impact the livelihoods of surviving military spouses.

Amendment 6 would pass a homestead property tax discount to a veteran's surviving spouse.

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However, not every spouse will qualify.

In 2006, Ronald Pierre-Paul was a U.S. Army chaplain’s assistant serving in Iraq. He was responsible for the spiritual readiness of soldiers in the middle of a hot zone.

Pierre-Paul, who sustained PTSD, will eventually be eligible for the Florida homestead property tax discount for veterans age 65, reducing his property taxes by 70 percent.

Palm Beach County Property Appraiser Dorothy Jacks explains the current law can be tough financially for spouses of veterans once their loved ones die.
Palm Beach County Property Appraiser Dorothy Jacks

"What happens at the moment is that benefit does not transfer to their surviving spouse. So, if that veteran is much older and has been receiving that benefit for years -- as has their spouse obviously in the same home -- and then that veteran passes away, their spouse loses the benefit, which seems very hard," said Palm Beach County property appraiser Dorothy Jacks.

This doesn't sit well with combat veterans like Pierre-Paul.

"If I can ask my wife, my spouse, to be there for me, to support me in the moments where I’m really feeling down, then I need to let her know that she's supported too, she’s taken care of," said Pierre-Paul.

Ronald Pierre-Paul
Ronald Pierre-Paul is a 70 percent service-connected disabled combat veteran.

If it passes, Amendment 6 will do that until the spouse remarries, sells or otherwise disposes of the homestead property.

So, what's the reason for the limited debate from different sides of the aisle?

"It’s not going to have a huge financial impact on cities or counties that depend on property taxes, so I think right now people just appreciate what vets have been doing the last 20 to 25 years," said political analyst Brian E. Crowley.

If passed, Amendment 6 would go into effect Jan. 1, 2021.

RELATED LINKS:

Click here to read the full amendment.

Click here to read more on current property tax exemptions on the Florida Department of Veterans Affairs website.

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