The Tax Man Cometh

Reprinted from PN April 2016

Paying your taxes doesn't have to be such a monetary burden

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It’s coming. The one day of the year dreaded by so many people across the country — Tax Day, which falls on April 18 this year. However, paying your taxes doesn’t have to be such a monetary burden.

Taxes can be reduced through numerous deductions and exemptions. This includes the many, various and sometimes unique benefits in each state reserved for veterans with varying degrees of disabilities.

Several Paralyzed Veterans of America (PVA) members have saved a significant amount of money each year by taking advantage of these benefits and they’re happy to share that information on how to do it.

Property Tax Exemption

Hen-Min Hiu, a member of the PVA Bay Area and Western Chapter, is a resident of Hawaii, which grants veterans who are 100% disabled as a result of service, a full property tax exemption. 

Shawn Tracy, PVA Mid-America Chapter vice president uses his tax-free ID card at Crest Foods to buy groceries for the month. Photo by Shawn Tracy.

Hiu served in the Air Force and flew more than 300 missions as a forward air controller in Vietnam before being shot down in 1969. 

The resulting crash left Hiu an incomplete paraplegic. After this, Hiu retired in Hawaii and credits his exemption as being a substantial reason why he can afford the state’s notoriously high housing rates. 

“It definitely makes it affordable for us to live here,” says Hiu. “This allows us to have a better standard of living than we would otherwise. The cost of housing here is outrageous.”

In addition to saving thousands of dollars a year through the property tax exemption, Hiu also takes advantage of subsidized car registration. This is free besides a small administrative fee. Military retirement pay is also exempt from taxes in Hawaii. However, it’s the property tax exemption that provides Hiu the greatest amount of savings.

“The city and county of Honolulu exemption on my $800,000 condo is $800,000, the full amount of the assessor’s valuation. The standard exemption for everyone else, I think, is $40,000,” Hiu says. “The tax rate is then set every year according to how much money the city and county thinks it needs, and property owners are charged the rate times the remaining assessed value of their parcel. I have to pay a minimum tax of $300 a year no matter what the rate or value of my home. Last year, I would otherwise have had to fork over about $2,800 without my special exemption.” 

Tax exemptions for property taxes are not unique to Hawaii. Craig Cascella, a past president of the PVA New England Chapter, also receives an exemption for his property in Rhode Island.

Cascella served in the Marines and was a member of Marine Helicopter Squadron One until his injury in 1992. 

Cascella owns oceanfront property in Narraganset, R.I., that happens to be 100% exempt, saving him a substantial amount of money each year. 

These exemptions for veterans with disabilities in Rhode Island vary between municipalities. Cascella was informed of this property tax exemption by a stranger and went to his local town hall to explore further. There are many resources in place for veterans to learn how they can qualify. 

“I would encourage every veteran to look into whatever benefit they may have in their town and community, as well as using their service officer to help them out,” Cascella says.  “Also check with their local PVA chapter to help them out, along with the National Service Organization.”


To find out what specific benefits are available to you in your state, consult with a tax professional or contact your local PVA National Service Officer from the roster.


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The Tax Man Cometh


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