WEST HARRISON— Almost half of Westchester County’s 80,000 military veterans are missing out on a property-tax exemption that could save them hundreds of dollars a year because they’re unaware of it and the Department of Veterans Affairs does not notify their hometowns when they are discharged, Sen. Charles Schumer said Monday.
“Whether it’s an existing homeowner that has missed out on hundreds of dollars in veterans’ benefits for years, or a younger veteran that wouldn’t otherwise consider purchasing a home, I want them to know about this benefit,” Schumer said at a news conference.
Under state law, Schumer said, military veterans are eligible to receive a 10 percent property assessment reduction if they served during the Cold War and a 15 percent reduction if they served during war time. Those who served in combat zones can receive an additional 10 percent reduction and those with a service-connected disability are eligible for more.
Schumer called on the VA to do a better job coordinating with local government and veterans agencies to make sure returning veterans are aware of all the benefits to which they’re entitled.
Specifically, he is asking the VA to compile and provide a bi-annual list of veterans to counties. Schumer also wants the VA to provide New Yorkers leaving the military with applications for the state’s tax exemption and is asking the Internet Company Trade Association, with members including Facebook and Google, to reach younger veterans and spread awareness of state and federal benefits.
Veterans and public officials applauded the initiative. Vito Pinto, director of the Westchester Veterans Service Agency, has long lamented the lack of information available about returning veterans.
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