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The Pros and Cons of Virginia’s Proposed Tax Relief Amendment

By Susan Larson

There are two proposed constitutional amendments on Virginia’s November 8, 2016, ballot.

The first — Question One — has to do with putting the state’s right-to-work law into the constitution. Read about it at:

Will a “Right-to-Work” Constitutional Amendment Help Workers or Business?

The second — Question Two — is called the proposed Tax Relief Ballot Amendment. The amendment question is worded:

“Question: Shall the Constitution of Virginia be amended to allow the General Assembly to provide an option to the localities to exempt from taxation the real property of the surviving spouse of any law-enforcement officer, firefighter, search and rescue personnel, or emergency medical services personnel who was killed in the line of duty, where the surviving spouse occupies the real property as his or her principal place of residence and has not remarried?”

For a person to receive a property tax exemption under the Question Two amendment, they would need to meet the following requirements:

1- Have been legally married to a “law-enforcement officer, firefighter, search and rescue personnel, or emergency medical services personnel” who died while doing their job.
2 – Own their own home.
3 – Live in a county or city whose governing body has decided to offer the property tax exemption.
4 – Remain unmarried if they wish to continue receiving the property tax exemption.

Proponents of the amendment say the property tax exemption recognizes the hardships to families whose loved one dies while serving the community. Proponents also say since the exemption is optional for localities, it is not an “unfunded mandate.”

Opponents say the exemption favors those who own a home, and does not provide anything for those who rent; say the real property tax by localities could result in reduced revenue for that locality; and say that changes to the Virginia Constitution should be reserved for extraordinary and compelling needs or reasons.

There is already a Virginia Constitutional Amendment that applies a real property tax exemption for veterans. Article X, Section 6-A applies a real property tax exemption for “any veteran with a 100 percent service-connected, permanent, and total disability” and “the surviving spouse of any member of the Armed Forces of the United States who was killed in action”

More
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Spotsylvania Voters’ Guide November 2016

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