Expanded homestead exemption amended, advanced

Veterans with a partial disability from a service-connected injury would qualify for a homestead exemption under a bill advanced from general file March 28.

Sen. Jen Day
Sen. Jen Day

Current law provides an exemption for qualifying veterans who are drawing compensation from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs because of a 100 percent service-connected disability.

Under LB853, as introduced by Omaha Sen. Jen Day, qualifying veterans who are at least 50 percent but less than totally disabled due to a non-service-connected accident or illness would qualify.

Day said she intended the exemption to apply to veterans who are at least 50 percent but less than 100 percent disabled due to a service-connected disability. A Revenue Committee amendment, adopted 38-0, corrects the error, she said.

Under the amendment, an unremarried surviving spouse of such a veteran or a spouse who remarries after turning 57 also would qualify for the exemption.

The exemption amount would be multiplied by the percentage that corresponds with the veteran’s disability percentage as outlined in the amendment.

Day said the change would help compensate veterans with service-related injuries for their lost earning power and show Nebraskans’ gratitude for their service.

Under current law, she said, a veteran with severe post-traumatic stress disorder or whose arm was amputated below the shoulder but above the elbow would have only a partial disability and would not qualify for a homestead exemption.

“Veterans with a 50 percent or higher service-connected injury only suffer from a partial disability in the clinical, cold and bureaucratic meaning of the term,” Day said. “As anyone else can see, these are life-altering injuries.”

Sen. Rita Sanders of Bellevue introduced an amendment, adopted 37-0, that includes the provisions of her LB1080. That proposal would allow veterans with a 100 percent service-connected temporary disability to qualify for a homestead exemption.

Additionally, it would allow veterans who have a 100 percent service-connected permanent disability to apply for a homestead exemption and certify their disability status once every five years rather than annually.

Under the Sanders amendment, a person who files a claim for an exemption would be subject to a penalty for failing to notify the county assessor of a qualifying veteran’s change in status, including a change in rating, a transfer of the property or the death of the veteran.

Lawmakers voted 39-0 to advance LB853 to select file.

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