24 December 2015

For Years, Colorado Legislators Have Blocked Property Tax Relief Due Some VA 100% Permanent and Totally Disabled Veterans

Colorado's statute provides property tax relief for VA-certified permanently and totally disabled state veterans. Colorado's law covers all of them, but some Colorado legislators have mentioned to the state's Veterans Affairs Department they'd like exceptions made, on the basis of their personal preference! The federal VA provides certification for this type of veteran and the state accepts that is the qualifier for relief, the benefit being half of the taxes on the first $200,000 of assessed home value.

The problem is that Colorado pretends there are extra words in its statute and adds, unofficially and without legislation, an unwritten preference suggested by some legislators to disqualify those disabled veterans certified by VA as "permanent and totally disabled" if any portion of the total disability is due to unemployability. Many vets are 60% or more for their service-connected disability but other disabilities make it such that the are unable to work even at the poverty level. They still are certified by VA as "100% permanently and totally disabled", but Colorado adds an unofficial, unmentioned qualifier...to exclude vets with any part of their VA award being for unemployability.

They say this is because some of the legislators who drafted the legislation then told the Colorado Veterans Department that's how they'd like the extra, interpretation added but only AFTER the language had been approved by the people of the state, their legislators, and the governor. Time for a little extra-legal fine tuning, not by adding eligible veterans by but excluding eligible veterans otherwise clearly certified by the VA as eligible for Colorado disabled veteran property tax relief. They did this, not by the clear words of the Colorado statute nor the equally clear words of the VA letter certifying some disabled veterans with unemployability awards as "100% permanent and totally disabled." They did this by simply telling the Colorado Veterans Affairs how they'd prefer the statute to be more exclusive, despite the language of the law just passed.

Only by the legislators' personal preference is it that totally disabled unemployability-qualified veterans are to be excluded, despite their word-for-word qualification under the Colorado law.

Personal preferences of some Colorado legislators somehow trump the clear language of the law, the votes of both houses of its legislators, and the governor's signature and the massive support of Colorado's citizens who want the states veterans given a small and vital benefit.

Here's the law:

 " (1.5)  "Exemption" means the property tax exemptions for qualifying seniors and qualifying disabled veterans allowed by section 39-3-203.

  (3.5)  "Qualifying disabled veteran" means an individual who has served on active duty in the United States armed forces, including a member of the Colorado National Guard who has been ordered into the active military service of the United States, has been separated therefrom under honorable conditions, and has established a service-connected disability that has been rated by the United States department of veterans affairs as one hundred percent permanent and total disability pursuant to a law or regulation administered by the department."

Why the distinction? Anybody catch the word "unemployability" Anybody else notice that it is the United States Department of Veterans Affairs which certifies 100% permanent and totally disabled veterans, not the state of Colorado?

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