On Thursday, Americans will formally honor the nation’s military veterans. Veteran’s Day is a federal holiday and is observed annually on November 11, the anniversary of the signing of the Armistice that ended World War I. On that day, major hostilities were formally ended at the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month of 1918 with the German signing of the Armistice. The holiday is officially celebrated in other parts of the world as Armistice Day or Remembrance Day.
Former New Jersey Governor and U. S. President Woodrow Wilson proclaimed an Armistice Day for November 30, 1919. Seven years later Congress declared the holiday should be moved to November 11 as “a day to be dedicated to the cause of world peace…”
One of the ways New Jersey and most other states honor their veterans is through property tax breaks. New Jersey provides a $250 annual property tax deduction to veterans who are U. S. citizens and New Jersey residents and who have been honorably discharged from active service during war-time. Since 1947, this benefit has been protected by a provision in the State Constitution and has increased from $50 to its current level. Since 2003, when the deduction was raised to its current level, there have been no increases. Surviving spouses and domestic/civil union partners continue to receive this benefit as long as they do not remarry.
These property tax deductions are available only to veterans who served during wartime, including those who have served or are serving in Iraq and Afghanistan. The number of veterans claiming this deduction has decreased by more than 30 percent in the past 10 years, from 337,344 in 2000 to 257,366 this year. This decrease is expected to continue as New Jersey veterans continue to age.
Municipalities currently administer this program and the state reimburses them 102 percent – the entire cost of the deduction plus 2 percent for administrative costs. This calendar year, the deduction has cost the state $65.5 million, an amount that like the number of veterans has been declining each year since its appropriation peaked at $81 million in 2003.
A smaller number of veterans – those rated 100 percent disabled by the federal Department of Veterans’ Affairs and who served during war-time – are totally exempt from paying property taxes. In 2010, 6,790 New Jersey veterans qualified for this exemption.
For more information on this deduction and eligibility for this benefit, go to the deduction application.
As Veterans Day approaches, thank the veterans for their valiant efforts against tyranny and for their peacekeeping efforts around the world.