VETERANS ADVISED ABOUT NEWLY PASSED PROPERTY TAX EXEMPTION

VETERANS ADVISED ABOUT NEWLY PASSED PROPERTY TAX EXEMPTION

Honorably discharged veterans in New Mexico will become eligible for additional property tax relief beginning in 2005, but Doña Ana County Assessor Gary Perez wants veterans to fully understand how and when the new law will affect their property taxes.

“There’s a lot of misconceptions among veterans at this point,” Perez said. “I’ve been working with Ed Silva of the New Mexico Veterans’ Service Office to clarify the details and to provide more information about the exemptions.”

Perez said his office has received dozens of calls following passage of a constitutional amendment on the Nov. 2 General Election ballot. The measure passed, Perez said, giving all honorably discharged veterans -- regardless of whether they served during wartime -- an exemption from their annual property valuation.

In a nutshell, the exemption details are as follows:

1) The exemption does NOT constitute a full exemption from paying property taxes.

2) The exemption is currently set at $3,000 per year, but it will increase to $3,500 in 2005 and will level off at $4,000 in 2006. The exemption is deducted from the taxable value of a home as determined by the Assessor’s Office. The taxable value is one-third the full market value as determined by the Assessor’s Office. For instance, a home valued at $100,000 has a taxable value of $33,333. At the 2004 level, the exemption reduces the net taxable value to $30,333. Tax savings arising from the exemption will range from $76 to $109 per year for qualified veterans. The amount of the discount will depend upon where in the county the property is located. Different tax rates apply in different areas.

3) To qualify for the exemption, a veteran must apply for it. Applications will be accepted beginning in January, 2005. Applications are available at the County Assessor’s Office (251 W. Amador in Las Cruces), and the Las Cruces Veteran’s Service Office (430 S. Main St. Suite A). As an added service, applications will also be available at any local chapter of the American Legion or the Veterans of Foreign Wars. Applications submitted prior to January 2005, will be returned without being processed.

4) Upon completing the certification process, the veteran must present a certificate of eligibility from the New Mexico Department of Veterans’ Services to the Doña Ana County Assessor’s Office. Deadline for the exemption to be claimed is 30 days after notices of taxable value are mailed. Perez said he expects those valuation notices will be mailed on or about March 1, 2005.

5) The exemption applies to any honorably discharged veteran of the U.S. Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Merchant Marines and/or Coast Guard. It also applies to any honorably discharged veteran of the National Guard and/or Reserves, provided that the veteran was activated by order of the President during his or her Guard or Reserve stint.

Applications are reviewed and approved by the New Mexico Department of Veteran’s Services.

For more information, call the New Mexico Veterans’ Service Office at (505) 524-6220 or the Doña Ana County Assessor’s Office at (505) 647-7400. Residents calling from outside the Las Cruces area may call toll-free at 1-877-827-7200 and request extension 7400.