The Senate unanimously approved legislation Wednesday to make school enrollment easier for military families transferring to Oklahoma and to stop fraudulent use of the disabled veterans sales tax exemption.
Senate Bill 1320 waves the residency requirements for students whose parents or legal guardians are being transferred to the state while on military active duty. The bill was requested by the U.S. Department of Defense to bring Oklahoma in line with other states under the National Compact on the Education of Military Children.
SB 1325 allows children of active military personnel being transferred to Oklahoma to enroll in a statewide virtual charter school. Currently, only Oklahoma residents can enroll in virtual charters.
Both bills require schools to accept electronic enrollment applications for these students and the parents must provide proof of residence within ten days of moving to Oklahoma.
“Military life isn’t easy. One of the greatest stresses on these families, and especially their kids, is how often they have to move. These bills seek to lighten some of the burden and stress of moving,” Simpson said “This will allow them to get one more thing off their to-do list before moving by getting their kids enrolled in school so they can focus on settling into their new home and starting their new job.”
SB 1440 authorizes the Oklahoma Tax Commission (OTC) to disclose taxpayer information to the Oklahoma Department of Veterans Affairs relating to individuals qualifying for the sales tax exemption provided to 100% service-disabled veterans. Veterans will be required to register with the Oklahoma Veterans Registry between November 1, 2020, and July 1, 2022, to remain qualified for the sales tax exemption. The measure requires the Department to verify eligibility for the sales tax exemption upon the OTC’s request.
The OTC shows approximately 32,000 military tax-exempt certificates on record. However, the USDVA shows only 16,000 100% disabled veterans in Oklahoma.
“We have to figure out a way to stop the fraudulent abuse of this exemption meant for those heroes who sacrificed so much for our country. Allowing these two agencies to share information is a step in the right direction,” Simpson said. “Those who illegally use this exemption are dishonoring our disabled veterans and taking away much-needed sales taxes from local communities, schools and vital state services.”
The bills will next be considered in the House of Representatives.
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