Missourians statewide will vote on a constitutional amendment Tuesday that the sponsor says will only affect an estimated 400 to 500 people.
Amendment 2 would exempt a specific group of veterans from having to pay property taxes: those that were a Prisoner of War AND have a ‘total service-connected disability. Follow this link to see the official ballot measure.
“That is done in the effort to appreciate those who sacrificed their lives and endured situations and conditions that were absolutely terrible,” said State Representative Maria Chappelle-Nadal of University City, who sponsored the bill that put the measure on the ballot.
State Representative Jeanette Mott Oxford of St. Louis agrees these veterans deserve to be honored, but says forgiveness of property taxes is not the right way to do it.
“Tax policy should be based on our ability to pay taxes, not some other characteristic about us like if we’ve done something heartwarming that society appreciates us for,” Mott Oxford said. “That’s not particularly sound tax policy. Instead our tax policy should be about having those who are able to pay more pay more and have those who aren’t able to pay more in our society have a fair level of taxation given their lack of income for basic human needs.”
What’s more, she says it’s not fair to other veterans who don’t fit into both of those categories and wouldn’t receive the benefits for their sacrifices.
“There are also many other veterans who have disabilities who were not Prisoners of War who don’t get the same benefit of making this exemption. So it’s kind of a tax policy that doesn’t really make sense from a standpoint of being rational instead of something that tugs at our hearts,” Mott Oxford said.
Chappelle-Nadal says it’s not possible right now to offer these benefits to more veterans, but she’d consider it later.
“Yes it would be nice if we could have 50% disability (veterans included), but we can’t afford it. You have to start somewhere,” Chappelle-Nadal said. “Even though we’re starting with a small group; that doesn’t bar us from expanding that when we are in better economic times.”
Chappelle-Nadal says she got the idea from a constituent, who found that more than 25 other states have similar measures.