Disabled Veterans Receive Tax Relief Under Legislation by Salas
SACRAMENTO – Late Friday, it was announced that the governor signed into law Assembly Bill (AB) 1257, authored by Assemblymember Rudy Salas (D-Bakersfield), which expands the sales and use tax exemption for disabled veterans when they purchase adaptive automotive equipment to allow people living with a physical disability to safely operate a vehicle, such as installing a platform wheelchair lift.
“Automotive adaptive equipment helps our returning veterans live a productive and healthy life,” said Assemblymember Salas. “Considering the injuries from the ongoing wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, it is important that we remove financial barriers for our disabled veterans to ensure that they are able to access this important equipment. I appreciate the governor’s signature on AB 1257 and will continue to author and support legislation that helps all of our veterans here in California.”
Automotive adaptive equipment helps physically challenged individuals safely enter, exit, or operate a vehicle. The primary mode of transportation in California is overwhelmingly the use of single-occupant vehicles. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the possible cost of a new vehicle with modified adaptive equipment can be as much as $80,000. The current state sales and use tax rate is 7.25 percent. By expanding the current exemption for physically disabled veterans, AB 1257 will provide tax relief for veterans who have served and sacrificed for our nation.
“On behalf of the American GI Forum of California, American Legion - Department of California, AMVETS - Department of California, California Association of County Veterans Service Officers, California State Commanders Veterans Council and Vietnam Veterans of America - California State Council, we commend Assemblymember Salas for authoring this important legislation,” said Seth Reeb, a legislative advocate with Reeb Government Relations. “Costs of this specialized equipment can often create a prohibitive barrier for our veterans. AB 1257 will help more disabled veterans gain access to these invaluable vehicle modifications that will help them live independent lives.”
AB 1257 expands an existing sales and use tax exemption to include a veteran with a service-connected disability from severe burns when purchasing adaptive automotive equipment. The United States Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) administers an Automobile Adaptive Equipment program that provides necessary equipment to enable physically challenged veterans to enter, exit, and safely operate motor vehicles. However, the VA program does not pay or reimburse state and local taxes and, as a result, veterans must pay the tax if the equipment does not qualify for the current exemption.
AB 1257 passed the Assembly and Senate with unanimous support, and was supported by numerous veterans groups, including the Kern River Blue Star Moms and American GI Forum. This measure will become law on January 1, 2020.
Assemblymember Salas represents part of the City of Bakersfield, the cities of Arvin, Hanford, Corcoran, Delano, Lemoore, McFarland, Shafter, Wasco, and the communities of Armona, Avenal, Buttonwillow, Home Garden, Kettleman City, Lamont, Lost Hills, Stratford and Weedpatch.