Senate Democrats Propose Full Exemption from State Income Tax for Military Retirees

Hartford Senate Democrats in Connecticut are pushing for retired veterans to be fully exempt from the states income tax.

The legislators made their case Tuesday during a news conference and public testimony at a hearing of the General Assemblys Veterans Affairs Committee. The hearing lasted nearly four hours with 50 proposed bills on the agenda.

But most of the testimony centered on proposed Senate Bill 520, which would provide a 100 percent exemption from the state income tax for federally taxable military retirement pay. Currently the exemption is at 50 percent for retired members of the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard, and Army and Air National Guard. The existing exemption benefits about 11,000 Connecticut veteran taxpayers each year, according to Senate President Pro Tem Martin Looney, D-New Haven, who is the lead sponsor of the bill.

As of now, the measure has bipartisan support, at least within the Veterans Affairs Committee, where both Republican and Democratic members spoke in favor of it.

Many from the public who testified indicated their support of the bill as a mechanism for retaining the states veterans, who currently can be swayed to move to states such as Massachusetts, where there is no tax on military retirement pay.

Of the states with a state income tax, 13 now offer 100 percent exemption for military retirement pay including our neighboring states Massachusetts and New York, Looney said during his testimony.

Acting state Veterans Affairs Commissioner Joseph Perkins was one of those who testified in support of the bill.

Anybody that serves their time in the service and gets themselves a retirement to have a quarter of it taken away in taxes is kind of ridiculous, he said.

During an interview after the hearing, Sen. Mae Flexer, D-Killingly, co-chairwoman of the committee, said the bill is an important step forward not only because as a state you should broadly be considering policies that keep more retired people in the state, but the first group of people we should start with are people who dedicated their careers to serving our country.

Rep. Jack Hennessy, D-Bridgeport, who served in the Army as a sergeant in the 1st Ranger Battalion, 75th Infantry, and is co-chairman of the committee, has said the bill is a top priority for him this session.

In fact, the states veterans could receive a number of tax breaks under a host of proposed bills this session. Of the 50 bills on Tuesdays agenda, 12 dealt with some form of tax exemption, relief or credit for veterans.

The committee will next meet at 11:30 a.m. Thursday in Room 1C at the Legislative Office Building, where members will raise additional concepts. Final action on the bills heard Tuesday to move them to the floor of the House or Senate, isnt expected until later on in the session.



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