RICHMOND, Va. — Virginia Constitutional Amendment 2 would exclude disabled veterans from paying personal property taxes on cars and pickup trucks. WUSA9 spoke to an attorney and a tax expert to better understand how this amendment could impact Virginians if passed.
"Virginia constitutional Question 2 is a tax break for 100% compensated disabled veterans to receive a tax break for the purchase of their first vehicle," said attorney and a veteran Phillip Thompson.
Thompson explains that this proposed tax break is meant to help offset some of the costs that disabled veterans face.
"The thinking behind that was that they were passing this in order to provide relief for ... disabled veterans that had to get specially designed vehicles," says Thompson. "Those vehicles were costing additional money and they wanted to provide a tax break."
According to current Virginia law, residents pay two main types of property taxes: one on their home and one on their vehicle. The tax exemption up for a vote would apply to vehicles. If passed, Virginia Constitutional Amendment 2 would provide a tax exemption for disabled veterans receiving 100% disability income.
"It covers [eligible recipients] the first vehicle regardless of that vehicle been modified or not," says tax expert Richard Auxier. "They didn't want to go through a process of having to individually approve, people, to pass in order to in order to be able to get the tax."
Auxier argues that this proposed amendment creates the opportunity inequities to be embedded in the constitution.
"[Eligible veteran] receive this benefit, regardless of how much they're earning," says Auxier. "You could have two neighbors: one neighbor is a veteran who's currently working a new job that pays $200,000 a year. And next door is your neighbor who's a teacher who gets paid $50,000 a year. And so the question isn't, you know, do you want to help veterans? It is … do you think the $200,000 veteran deserves the tax break, but the $50,000 teacher doesn't?
If this passes, Auxier says the next question would naturally be … how are they going to replace the tax revenue that they are losing from passes this amendment?
"There's often really good reasons why you would want to remove tax like we have benefits for seniors and lower-income people," says Auxier.
"We have business tax credits and tax incentives for businesses because we think it's important to try to get them to locate here and we're willing to make that trade-off. And so our voters, is this the trade-off that voters want to make? And if they make this one, will that make them think about other trade-offs?"
Early voting has already started in Virginia, but if you, like the viewer who sent in this question, see something that you need us to clarify so that you can make an informed vote shoot us a text to 202.895.5599.