Veterans' Tax Exemption

Frequently Asked Questions

The Tonawanda City School Board of Education is currently considering the possibility of offering a Veterans' Tax Exemption. As part of the review process, the Board conducted a hearing on April 21 (a public forum was held on March 24), an online survey and held a non-binding referendum on May 19, 2015 with the following results yes - 423; no - 125.

Q: When was the hearing?

The Board of Education held two forums; a hearing on April 21 from 6-7 p.m. in the Tonawanda High School Library Media Center; speakers included the City and County Assessor and a public forum on March 24, 2015 with a presentation by district officials followed by a question and answer period.

Tax Exemption Presentation

Q: What is a non-binding referendum?

A non-binding referendum is a question that is included on a ballot vote. Voters are asked to answer the referendum, but the results are non-binding.

Q: What is the Veterans’ Tax Exemption?

The Veterans’ Tax Exemption is a reduction in taxes for veterans who served in a time of war. The amount of the exemption can vary based on whether the veteran served in a combat or non-combat zone and whether or not they have a service disability. There are no income requirements for the exemption.

Q: Why are school districts considering this now?

In December, 2013, Governor Cuomo signed legislation that authorized school districts to offer this exemption. Previously, only towns, cities, and other municipalities could offer the exemption.

Q: Is the school district required to offer this exemption?

No, the Board of Education has the authority to decide whether or not to offer the exemption.

Q: How does the exemption work?

The exemption lowers the tax bill for qualifying veterans and increases the taxes collected from all other property owners. The total amount collected by the school district remains the same; the exemption shifts where the money comes from.

Q: Do I automatically qualify for the exemption if I am a veteran?

No, Cold War veterans do not qualify for this exemption. If you receive the Pro-Rata veteran exemption with the city currently, you need to fill out an application to receive the Alt veteran exemption. If you already receive the Alt veteran exemption through the city, this information will automatically be accessible if the Board of Education offers the exemption.

Q: How does the total number of veterans who apply affect the tax bills for homeowners without the exemption?

The only individuals that would have to fill out an application are the 139 veterans in the school district that currently have the Pro-Rata veteran exemption that could apply for the Alt veteran exemption. If fewer than the eligible 139 apply, it would be less that the taxpayers without exemptions would be responsible for. But it's minimal; about $2 less of a tax bill increase per parcel.

Q: What level, if any, is the Board of Education considering adopting?

The Board is surveying the community based on the lowest exemption levels of $6,000 (Wartime Non-Combat Vet) / $10,000 (Combat Vet) / $20,000 (Disabled Vet). See the charts below to understand the possible impact this has on tax bills.

Examples at the Lowest Exemption Levels
Effect on Assessed Home Value
($92,000 is being used as an average home assessment value for Tonawanda)
Effect on School Tax Bills for Parcels With and Without Exemptions
Without Exemption$92,000 x 17.58 / 1,000 = $1,617.36$21.16 tax bill increase
With Maximum Wartime (Non-Combat)
$86,000 x 17.58 / 1,000 = $1,511.88$84.32 tax bill decrease
With Maximum Combat Exemption$82,000 x 17.58 / 1,000 = $1,441.56$154.64 tax bill decrease
With Maximum Disabled Exemption$72,000 x 17.58 / 1,000 = $1,265.76$330.44 tax bill decrease