SACRAMENTO – The Assembly Veterans Affairs Committee Tuesday approved AB 3209, a bill by Assemblymember Jim Frazier (D-Discovery Bay) that would help totally disabled veterans remain in California by exempting the full value of primary personal residences they own from ad valorem property taxes. The Committee moved the bill forward on a unanimous, bipartisan vote.
“Veterans who return home with a full disability sacrificed their livelihoods in the service of our country,” Frazier said. “The rising cost of home prices is driving veterans out of California. AB 3209 would help our disabled veterans remain in California, providing them better options to live close to base facilities and medical providers. This legislation will help make housing a bit more affordable for veterans who really need and deserve this assistance.”
AB 3209 defines a “totally disabled veteran” as a veteran who is blind in both eyes, has lost the use of two or more limbs, or is totally disabled as a result of injury or disease incurred in military. This reflects a disability rating at 100 percent from the United States Department of Veterans Affairs (USDVA), or the military service from which the veteran was discharged, or has a disability compensation rating at 100 percent because the veteran is unable to secure or follow a substantially gainful occupation.
Current law only exempts a portion of the value of a home owned by a totally disabled veteran, depending on the veteran’s income. AB 3209 would make the property tax exemption 100 percent for every qualifying veteran, regardless of income. It would apply to the principal place of residence of a veteran that is owned by the veteran, the veteran’s spouse, or the veteran and veteran’s spouse jointly. Currently about 45,000 California homes receive the disabled veterans exemption, including homes owned by surviving spouses. The Board of Equalization estimates the average assessed value of a home currently receiving the exemption is $394,000. The median home price in California was nearly $528,000 in January 2018, the California Association of Realtors reports.
“About 53,000 veterans who live in our state qualify as 100 percent disabled,” Frazier added. “California is their home. AB 3209 will help ensure these veterans can remain in their homes.”
AB 3209 is supported by a number of veterans groups, including the GI Forum of California; American Legion, Department of California; The California Association of County Veterans Service Officers; the California State Commanders Veterans Council and the California Council of Military Officers Association of America.
“Veterans who return home totally disabled due to their honorable service to this great country often times have sacrificed their ability to maintain gainful employment in support of themselves or their families,” said J.R. Wilson, president of the Delta Veterans Group, testifying in support of AB 3209 at today’s hearing.
“Often times these veterans have a capped income – meaning they cannot ask for overtime to supplement their limited income,” added Wilson, who is also Jr. Past State Commander of Disabled Veterans of America. “So as the rising home prices in California continue to soar, their expendable income continues to dwindle away. This bill would provide the means to make sure our disabled veterans can stay in their homes they so justifiably deserve.”
Assemblymember Frazier represents the 11th Assembly District, which includes the communities of Antioch, Bethel Island, Birds Landing, Brentwood, Byron, Collinsville, Discovery Bay, Fairfield, Isleton, Knightsen, Locke, Oakley, Pittsburg (partial), Rio Vista, Suisun City, Travis AFB, Vacaville and Walnut Grove.