TRENTON – Legislation sponsored by Senators Bob Gordon and Jim Beach to extend veterans’ property tax benefits to military service members who responded to Ground Zero in the aftermath of the 9/11 terrorist attacks, was approved yesterday by the Senate.
“The soldiers who engaged in the rescue and recovery effort at Ground Zero were involved in a military mission after an attack on American soil,” said Senator Gordon (D-Bergen/Passaic). “Extending to them the state benefits granted to veterans who served in time of war is appropriate. It recognizes their service to the country on that tragic day and during the period that followed, as well as the sacrifice of those whose health continues to suffer.”
“Members of the military who responded to the World Trade Center site and assisted with the effort of searching through the rubble in the aftermath of the terror attacks sacrificed their health and safety in service to our country, and providing them the war time benefits that veterans receive from the state is the right thing to do,” said Senator Beach (D-Camden/Burlington). “This will not only provide the veterans’ deduction to these individuals but exempt from property taxes those who sustained a service connected disability in the course of their work.”
The bill (S2883) would allow honorably discharged military veterans who served in direct support of the rescue and recovery effort at Ground Zero to be eligible for benefits that are provided to military service members who were on active service in time of war.
The change would make these responders eligible for a $250 veterans’ property tax deduction. It would also qualify honorably discharged veterans for a 100% property tax exemption if the veteran sustained a service-connected 100 percent disability while serving at the World Trade Center site.
The bill would make this possible by changing the definition of “active service in time of war” in law to include service during the period of rescue and recovery of the victims of the terrorist attack on the World Trade Center in New York, New York, on September 11, 2001. Service members must have served on the pile of rubble that resulted from the attacks on the World Trade Center in direct support of the recovery effort for a period, continuously or in the aggregate, of at least 14 days from the period beginning on September 11, 2001 and ending on May 30, 2002. However, any person receiving a service-incurred injury or disability while engaged in such service would be classed as a veteran whether or not that person completed the required 14 days’ service.
The Senate approved the bill by a vote of 38-0. It next heads to the Assembly for consideration.