North Carolina is the proud home of several military bases representing the U.S. Armed Forces. Our military presence is huge, leaving the pursuit of making North Carolina the most military-friendly state long overdue. To some military men and women, North Carolina is just a brief stop in their journey; To over 650,000 veterans, it’s home.

The passing of the 2021 state budget was more than money being handed out for various projects in different counties, municipalities, and organizations. The North Carolina General Assembly made military retirees a priority this year, including a tax exemption for retiree pensions.

Beginning January 2021, military retirees no longer pay taxes on their pension income. This provision in the budget is expected to save North Carolina veterans roughly $30 million annually, encouraging more of them to stay in-state. The impact of this exemption goes far beyond those who will be receiving the tax break. We can expect to see a significant and lasting economic benefit to our state.

The average age of a military retiree varies from the early 40s to mid-50s. With the elimination of the tax on retirement benefits, we can hope to see a drastic increase in qualified service members retiring in our state to begin new careers. Many of these retirees are likely to become business owners, which will lead to the creation of local jobs and additional revenue directed to our community. Suppose we increase the number of military retirees in North Carolina by just 2,000 over the next three years. In that case, enough tax revenue will be generated to cover what is otherwise lost by this exemption.

Regardless of your politics, we can all agree that the prolonged sacrifices made by members of our armed forces run deeper than any physical wound. The valiant sacrifice made by the many men and women who selflessly serve our country is something you can’t put a price tag on. While life for civilians remains unchanged, our military heroes arrive home with both physical and mental scars, having missed out on numerous family milestones and time with their loved ones.

As we recently celebrated the anniversary of the last remaining troops exiting Vietnam, we’re reminded of the world that many returned home to. A country divided with political warfare against those who sacrificed so much for our freedom. The tax cut for military retirees honors their bravery and commitment, bringing us one step closer to delivering on our promise and making North Carolina the “most military-friendly state” in the country.

State Representative Ben Moss (R-Rockingham) is a member of the North Carolina General Assembly, where he sponsored the legislation to eliminate state income tax on military retirement income.