OKLAHOMA CITY –One of the first bills filed for the 2008 session of the Oklahoma Legislature would extend an important tax break to the surviving spouses of disabled veterans.
Senator Jay Paul Gumm filed Senate Bill 1131, which would allow surviving spouses of veterans with a 100 percent service-connected disability to keep the veterans’ sales tax exemption.
Gumm was the primary author of the bill that created the sales tax exemption for disabled veterans on every purchase up to an annual total of $25,000. The Democrat from Durant was named “Senator of the Year” in 2006 by the Oklahoma Department of Disabled American Veterans for his work to pass the original law.
The lawmaker said surviving spouses of disabled veterans endure extra hardships on the passing of their spouse. “Not only do they lose their soul mates, they often face severe financial difficulties,” he said. “The financial hardship is increased when the tax exemption dies with their loved one. It is an extra burden they should not have to bear.”
This latest measure is part of a continuing effort to strengthen the exemption veterans earned on fields of battle around the world. When word spread that many businesses were ignoring the law, Gumm led an effort to boost penalties for those businesses that refused to honor the exemption.
“This bill is the next logical step for the exemption,” said Gumm, whose father was a Korean War veteran and whose mother was state president of the American Legion Auxiliary.
“The freedom we enjoy as Americans do not die with the passing of a veteran; this benefit they earned should not die as well. It should extend to their surviving spouses.”
Based on the response of veterans from across Oklahoma, this is one of the most popular veteran benefits in the state.
“Even veterans who do not qualify for the exemption say it is important,” Gumm concluded. “They tell me that simply having it on the books and honoring the exemption shows we in Oklahoma value the sacrifice of those who defended our freedom.”
Lawmakers will consider the measure when the 2008 session of the Legislature begins in February.