News: Quick Takes

General Assembly roundup: Bill would remove caps on homestead exemption for disabled veterans

CJ file photo
CJ file photo

RALEIGH — A state legislator is hoping to give disabled veterans and spouses of fallen first responders a break on their property tax bills.

Rep. Nelson Dollar, R-Wake, has filed a bill removing homestead exemption caps for disabled veterans.

“Currently for disabled veterans the homestead exclusion is only up to $45,000 of assessed value,” Dollar said. “So this takes out that cap.”

The bill also would extend the uncapped homestead exemption for spouses of first responders killed in the line of duty.

“We’re looking for opportunities to honor the service, honor the sacrifices that have been made by those who put themselves in harm’s way for our country and those who put themselves in harm’s way on a daily basis to serve our community,” Dollar said.

Dollar said more than 13,000 disabled veterans and about 400 families of fallen first responders could benefit from the bill if it becomes law. He said disabled veterans could see a total decrease of $13 million to $14 million in their property tax bills statewide. First responder survivors would see their property tax bills decrease by about $700,000 statewide, he said.

The bill has been sent to a State and Local Government Committee.

 

Program gives people with disabilities opportunity to save money

RALEIGH – The State Treasurer’s Office has launched the NC ABLE program, which allows many individuals with disabilities to save up to $14,000 a year without jeopardizing certain government benefits, such as Medicaid and Supplemental Security Income.

“NC ABLE accounts allow people with disabilities, and those who love and care for them, the chance to save and invest their own money — something that, before now, meant giving up critically needed benefits,” state Treasurer Dale Folwell said in a statement.

ABLE is an acronym for Achieving a Better Life Experience.

The ABLE program is a federal programRichard Burr, R-N.C., was instrumental in getting it passed, said Brad Young, a spokesman for the treasurer’s office. “It trickled down to the state to plan.”

The General Assembly passed a law creating the state implementation plan in 2015. It was placed in the treasurer’s office because that office has experience in investment plans.

“We entered into a consortium with 14 other states,” Young said.

Young said this program gives people with disabilities more financial freedom. “They’ve kind of had their hands tied in the past because they were dependent on benefits,” he said.

According to the program’s web page, the earnings on investments are federally tax-deferred and tax free, if used for qualified disability expenses. Contributions are not tax free.

Qualified expenses include education, health and wellness, housing, transportation, legal fees, financial management, employment training and support, assistive technology, personal support services, oversight and monitoring, and funeral and burial expenses, according to the program’s website.

Earnings not used for a qualified expense will be subject to the regular tax rate and a 10 percent federal tax penalty.

To be eligible for the program, the person’s disability had to be present before age 26.

The General Assembly reconvenes Monday at 4 p.m.