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Doing the right thing for our veterans

The Avenue News - 12/6/2017

Veterans are special people. When a man or women enlists in the military they put their lives on the line. They know that in serving their country their lives may be dramatically changed by the scars of battle, wounds both visible and invisible. They know that military service may cost them their lives. Military service is a line of work like no other. The dangers are ever-present and real.

As citizens of this great country, we can not thank our veterans enough for their service. As a State Senator, one way I have tried to thank our veterans is by introducing legislation to exempt Maryland veterans' military retirement income from the state income tax. The bill was not approved by the General Assembly. I am going to re-introduce the legislation in the upcoming 2018 session.

Exempting Maryland's over 50,000 veterans from taxation on their military retirement income has the support of Governor Larry Hogan. In fact, the Governor has announced he also plans to re-introduce his legislation to exempt military retirement income from state and local taxes. I will wholeheartedly support the Governor's bill. As it should, the Governor's proposal will take precedence over my bill.

The Department of Legislative Services puts the 5-year price tag on the veterans' tax exemption at about $100 million. That's a substantial amount of money. And I am a strong conservative when it comes to spending the taxpayers' money. But when you think about the hundreds of billions of dollars in state spending, the cost of the veterans' tax exemption is a relatively minor expense.

Under current Maryland law, the first $10,000 of military retirement can be exempted from state and local taxes. Like Maryland, most states that tax income have partial exemptions for military retirement pay. But we should do more.

The veterans' tax exemption is not a partisan issue. Both Republicans and Democrats support the bill. As a matter of fact, former Lt. Governor Anthony Brown was a strong supporter of the veterans' tax exemption.

Exempting state taxation of veterans' military retirement income is the right thing to do. I am hopeful that the 2018 Maryland General Assembly will do the right thing.

-State Sen. Johnny Ray Salling (R-6)


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