Veterans get tax break from election

William Thompson

On Tuesday, New Mexico voters approved an amendment to the New Mexico State Constitution which will allow a property tax exemption to all honorably discharged veterans. The tax exemption was formerly available only to veterans of foreign wars or conflicts.

Janie Murray, chief deputy assessor for Quay County, said the tax exemption currently takes up to $3,500 off the taxable value of a veteran’s property. “In 2006 the tax exemption will take $4,000 off the taxable value of a property,” said Murray. “The current yearly tax on a $40,000 home is $397 withourt the exemption. With the exemption, the yearly tax is $319.”
Murray said to qualify, a veteran must present a certificate to the county assessor’s office showing eligibility for the tax exemption. “Veterans will need to bring in their certificate from the New Mexico Department of Veterans Services showing that they are eligible for the tax exemption.”

Paul Sanchez, the veterans services officer for Quay County, said it is fairly easy to obtain the required certificate.
“It’s just a one-page application,” said Sanchez. “The veteran must bring in his or her DD214 form (discharge papers) and have other than a dishonorable discharge from the military. We will send the application to the Department of Veterans Services, and if the veteran is eligible a certificate will be mailed to him or her.”

Sanchez said his office is not accepting applications until January. “We will begin taking applications in January, but will not start issuing certificates until March 2005,” said Sanchez. “That means the veteran will be able to use the tax exemption in 2005.” Felix Jimenez, a Viet Nam veteran, was already eligible for the tax exemption under the former guidelines. He said the exemption is helpful. “I used it for the property tax on my home,” said Jimenez. “It’s a big savings.” Murray said the tax exemption can also apply to vehicle registration taxes. “A veteran cannot use the exemption on property and a vehicle. It has to be one or the other,” she said, “Also, the widow of a veteran is eligible for the tax exemption as long as she has not remarried.”

Sanchez said he used his veteran’s tax exemption when he went to pay his vehicle registration. “I saved about $10 on my vehicle registration tax.” Sanchez said local veterans have already begun asking him about the new amendment. The Veterans Services office is located at 706 S. First St. Sanchez said he is available to help veterans Tuesdays through Thursdays.