State Sen. Jay Paul Gumm is continuing his efforts to ensure compliance with a tax break for disabled veterans originally passed in 2005. Gumm said despite widespread publicity about the law and a $500 administrative fine approved in 2006 for noncompliance, there are still retailers in the state refusing to honor the tax exemption.
“Last month, the full Senate gave unanimous approval to Senate Bill 1321, which makes it a misdemeanor to willfully refuse to honor this benefit for 100 percent disabled veterans,” said Gumm, a Democrat from Durant. “That measure is awaiting House action, but in addition, we now have a second measure working its way through the legislature to improve compliance.”
Gumm said on Tuesday, the Senate Finance Committee unanimously approved amendatory language to House Bill 1545 that actually goes one step further than SB 1321.
“Not only does this language make it a misdemeanor with a fine of $500 per offense, but it also enables the public to know which stores or chains are refusing to honor this exemption for disabled veterans,” Gumm said. “Currently, when the Tax Commission is investigating such complaints, all communications are considered confidential. The language passed unanimously in committee would open up that information to the public and the media. I’m sure there are citizens who would like to know which stores are doing this so they can take their business elsewhere.”
HB 1545, as amended by Gumm, now moves to the full Senate for a vote.
“The message here is if you have a store, this tax exemption for disabled veterans is not optional. It’s the law, and if you don’t follow the law, there will be consequences by the state and by customers who don’t want to see our veterans dishonored,” Gumm said.