Arkansas veterans wanting tax exemption on military retirement
Veterans groups from all over the state and state leaders gathered at the state capitol on Thursday to talk about veterans' issues. While veterans are honored for their service to our country, some veterans in Arkansas say they're not being honored with their money. "A veteran can give themselves a pay increase simply by packing up and moving to another state," said Will Beams, director of the Arkansas Veterans Coalition. Veterans in Arkansas receive a $6,000 dollar exemption on taxes from their military retirement pay. But neighboring states like Louisiana, Texas, Mississippi and Tennessee don't tax military retirement pay at all. Missouri will stop taxing it in 2016. "One thing we're trying to do is attract viable working veterans. Working age veterans to come to the state of Arkansas by offering them benefits that are offered to other partners. Arkansas ranks 48th on where veterans choose to go to retire. What we need to do is give them a reason to come here," said Beams. An exemption bill is something lawmakers are planning this legislative session. Lt. Gov. Tim Griffin says it's a much-needed change. "When people are deciding where to go, they look at that. They say wait a minute, I can go to this state and pay nothing in taxes or I can go this state and be poor by $5,000 a year or whatever it is," said Griffin. There are two other bills that are in draft at the Bureau of Legislative Research. One would create statewide access to treatment courts for veterans. The other bill would deal with in-state tuition for veterans, eliminating a 12-month waiting period for in-state tuition for veterans.