Q. I served six months active duty and three years National Guard and was denied the $250 real estate tax deduction in my community for the following reason: “did not serve during a national conflict.” Is that a state requirement or is that determined by the local municipal government?
— What gives?
A. The rules for qualifying for the deduction are pretty strict.
To get the $250 property tax deduction, a veteran must apply at the local tax assessor’s office, said Reynold Cicalese III, a certified public accountant with Alloy Silverstein in Cherry Hill.
“The application process can be confusing because of the rules on when a vet has to apply,” he said. “Applications must be filed between October and December of the year before the deduction will take place. Confusing, right?”
In other words, if you file an application on Oct. 1, 2017, the deduction will be effective for the 2018 tax year.
Cicalese said there are specifics on which veterans qualify for the deduction.
“Vets must live in New Jersey, have been honorably discharged, and served in a national conflict in order to qualify for the deduction,” he said. “Active duty for training purposes or as a member of a reserve component does not qualify the veteran for the deduction.”
The State outlines which conflicts specifically qualify for the deduction. For example, Operation Iraqi Freedom, the Vietnam War and Desert Storm are listed as qualifying conflicts.
Also, Cicalese said, any veteran applying for the deduction may have to submit proof of military records, residency, and property ownership before a deduction will be provided.
He said the deduction can also be claimed by a surviving spouse or domestic partner, and the application would still need to be submitted to the local tax assessor’s office.
Documentation will need to be submitted proving marriage or domestic partnership, the veteran’s active wartime service, residency and property ownership, he said. Also, the surviving spouse or domestic partner must not have remarried or formed a new domestic partnership.
“If you’re not sure whether your military service qualifies for the deduction, you can reach out to the New Jersey Department of Military and Veterans Affairs and they should be able to help you gather the appropriate documentation,” Cicalese said.
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