Constitutional amendments on tax breaks for military families, homeowners in flood-prone areas pass

Constitutional amendments on tax breaks for military families, homeowners in flood-prone areas pass
Voters in Virginia had two constitutional amendments on their ballot. (Source: Virginia Mercury)

Amendment proposal from Del. Jason Miyares, R-Virginia Beach:

Ballot question: Shall the real property tax exemption for a primary residence that is currently provided to the surviving spouses of veterans who had a 100 percent service-connected, permanent and total disability be amended to allow the surviving spouse to move to a different primary residence and still claim the exemption?

In one week, Miyares, a lawyer in Virginia Beach, met with two people who were about to close on a new home and were surprised by the addition of property taxes.

Both of those potential clients had spouses who were disabled veterans who had died. They had been exempt from real property taxes — until they decided to move.

In the current state Constitution, spouses of veterans with disabilities who have died receive a full property tax exemption on the home they live in. But it doesn’t apply if the spouse decides to move.

“This was a little bit of a loophole,” Miyares said. “This may seem small, but people have quit jobs, haven’t been able to work because they’re caregivers now, and then you’re told you have to pay a property tax bill.”

Amendment proposal from State Sen. Lynnwood Lewis, D-Accomac:

Ballot question: Should a county, city, or town be authorized to provide a partial tax exemption for real property that is subject to recurrent flooding, if flooding resiliency improvements have been made on the property?

For some homeowners who live in coastal Virginia, the only way to keep their property safe from rising water is by taking on expensive projects, like raising building elevation, filling in basements, installing flood openings or refinishing their home with flood-resistant material.

A constitutional amendment from Lewis wants to help those property owners by giving them a partial break on property taxes.

“You’re trying to provide incentives to property owners to do what they need to do on their properties,” he said.

His amendment doesn’t require localities to give homeowners a break, it just allows local governments to do it.

Amending Virginia’s Constitution is a lengthy process. The proposal has to pass both chambers of the General Assembly, then there must be an election.

After the election, the same proposal has to pass the General Assembly again and then it is put up for a statewide vote.

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