Brown champions tax exemption for disabled veterans

Senator Sharon BrownNew 8th District Senator Sharon Brown, R-Kennewick, is picking up right where her predecessor left off in looking out for the needs of disabled veterans.

The Senate Ways and Means Committee will hold a hearing Thursday to discuss Senate Bill 5072, introduced by Brown’s predecessor, former Sen. Jerome Delvin. It would provide a sales-tax exemption for disabled veterans and members of the armed forces who require adaptive equipment in order to safely operate their personal vehicles.

“We are talking about the equipment that allows a disabled veteran to drive, to get to work and to spend time with his or her family,” Brown said. “Not only is it the right thing to do for veterans, it’s the right direction to go for the state of Washington.”

The state Department of Veterans Affairs offers a program which provides adaptive equipment to disabled veterans who need it to enter, exit and safely operate their vehicles. Because of the way the program is structured the VA can only pay the seller directly for the price of the equipment, not to the veteran or for the after-tax cost of the upgrades. The equipment is subject to sales and use tax which often leaves the disabled veteran on the hook for hundreds, sometimes thousands of dollars in taxes.

“These veterans did not simply do a job. They have lived in foxholes; they have lived without basic services in some of the most horrific conditions you could ever imagine while protecting our way of life,” Brown continued. “We owe them a debt of gratitude. While this bill can only do so much, it will help Washington’s veterans live better lives.”

Washington is only one of four states to tax adaptive equipment prescribed for the disabled. Many people have had to do without adaptive devices due to the prohibitive cost of the tax. During testimony in a different committee on SB 5072 some members of the public compared the tax on adaptive equipment to “placing a use tax on legs.”