Losing military retirees – action is required now

Published 12:00 am Sunday, August 17, 2003

This past week Maryland formed a task force to examine taxes leveled on military retirees. There is concern at the highest level of the Maryland state government that they are losing retirees due to the heavy tax burden.

Virginia should consider adopting the same approach.

There are some seven states that do not require military personnel to pay state income taxes. These are: Alaska, Florida, Nevada, South Dakota, Texas, Washington, and Wyoming. They are mecca’s for military retirees who recycle their pensions into the local economy. Military retirees are more apt to buy homes, pay real estate taxes and become involved members of the community.

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In addition, according to the Web site military.com, other states give special breaks on military pay. These are: California, Oregon, Idaho, Montana, North Dakota, Arizona, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Tennessee, North Carolina, South Carolina, Missouri, Iowa, Michigan, Wisconsin, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, West Virginia, Pennsylvania, New York, Maryland, Vermont, and New Hampshire.

North Carolina, our neighbors to the south, exempt from state income taxation: &uot;Any amount, not to exceed $4,000 received by a taxpayer during any year as retired or retainer pay as a result of service in any of the Armed Forces of the United States.&uot;

Notice Virginia is not on either list.

Retired military personnel provide a lot to a community. They are a sources of substitute teachers, active in civic groups and a stabilizing force in neighborhoods. They bring a sense of duty even after they hung their uniform up. However, the state’s tax situation is making it more difficult.

Military members routinely prove they like Hampton Roads surrounding communities by routinely asking assignment officials for rotations that keep them based here.

Suffolk citizens should appreciate the contributions and serve of military retirees and seek ways to keep them here. Yes, our state has a deficit that needs to corrected. But military retirees should get a break on the state income tax, even if it is as modest as North Carolina’s – their service to the country guaranteed our freedom in the face of adversity. We should recognize that.