Sainato bill would extend disabled veteran tax exemption to surviving spouses

Would amend state constitution to recognize military spouses’ sacrifices

HARRISBURG, Oct. 7 – A bill recently introduced by state Rep. Chris Sainato, D-Lawrence, would expand the property tax exemption currently available to Pennsylvania’s disabled combat veterans so that it also benefits the surviving spouses of service members who were killed in action or passed away after receiving a disability rating.

Sainato, Democratic chairman of the House Veterans Affairs and Emergency Preparedness Committee, said he introduced H.B. 1953 – which would amend the state constitution – because he believes Pennsylvania needs to do more to recognize the sacrifices made by military spouses.

“Military service resulting in disabling injury or death has a profound, life-altering impact on a service member’s spouse,” Sainato said. “Unfortunately, our laws do not do enough to recognize that sacrifice. Currently, Pennsylvania provides a property tax exemption for veterans who suffered disabling injuries in combat, but our state constitution limits that exemption to the veteran service members themselves.

“That limitation creates an unfair result: it deprives the spouse of a military member who died from their injuries an important benefit they would have been guaranteed had their service member spouse survived, but with disabling injuries. My bill would correct that inequity and amend the state constitution to make the property tax exemption available to survivors whose service member spouses were killed in action (or missing and presumed dead) or who received a disability rating of 100% and later died.”

Sainato said his bill would also expand eligibility for the exemption to veterans who served, regardless of where their sacrifice was made.

The bill is in the House Veterans Affairs and Emergency Preparedness Committee.

Sainato introduced a previous version of the bill – H.B. 1787 – during the 2019-20 legislative session.