Voters in 2 states approve property tax exemptions for first responders


First responders and their surviving family are now eligible for property tax exemptions in Florida and Virginia.

First responders play a crucial role in ensuring the health and safety of individuals impacted by serious life-threatening catastrophes. These police officers, firefighters and EMTs serve as first line of help during dangerous situations, and they put their lives on the line to protect us all.

In a show of dedication to their efforts, two states have recently passed amendments that reduce the tax burden for these brave individuals and their families. 

First responders and their families are now eligible for property tax exemptions in two states.First responders and their families are now eligible for property tax exemptions in two states.

Virginia voters pass first responder amendment

This past November, voters in the state of Virginia recently approved a ballot measure titled the "Virginia Property Tax Exemption for Surviving Spouses of Police and Service Personnel Amendment." With nearly 80 percent of residents casting a "Yes" vote, the surviving spouses of first responders will now be eligible for a property tax exemption while living in the residence on the property and not remarrying.

The amendment put to Virginians read:

"Shall the Constitution of Virginia be amended to allow the General Assembly to provide an option to the localities to exempt from taxation the real property of the surviving spouse of any law-enforcement officer, firefighter, search and rescue personnel, or emergency medical services personnel who was killed in the line of duty, where the surviving spouse occupies the real property as his or her principal place of residence and has not remarried?"

This measure recognizes the sacrifices made by the courageous men and women in the line of duty and helps mitigate the hardships their families face following the loss of their loved one.

First responders and their families in Virginia and Florida will now be eligible for property tax exemptions.First responders and their families in Virginia and Florida will now be eligible for property tax exemptions.

Florida first responder ballot measure approved

Voters in Florida similarly passed a ballot measure aimed at helping first responders who suffer major injuries while in the line of performing their duties. The measure, titled "Florida Tax Exemptions for Disabled First Responders Amendment" passed with almost 84 percent of the vote. 

The ballot summary put to Floridians in November read:

"Proposing an amendment to the State Constitution to authorize a first responder, who is totally and permanently disabled as a result of injuries sustained in the line of duty, to receive relief from ad valorem taxes assessed on homestead property, if authorized by general law. If approved by voters, the amendment takes effect January 1, 2017."

With the passage of this amendment, first responders working and residing in the state of Florida will now be able to reduce their property tax burden if they suffer injuries on the job that leave them disabled.

"The measures alleviate the financial burden for families of first responders."

Taking care of first responders

In both cases, these measures alleviate the financial burden for families of first responders in recognition of their service and sacrifices. For all the hard work and dedication of first responders, it's important that communities and states enact these measures for the good of their families. When breadwinners are killed or disabled in the line of duty, family members are left stressed and anxious over how to pay the bills. These brave individuals and their families shouldn't have to deal with these problems during such a challenging time. 

While these amendments will certainly help, there are still other ways to ensure the financial security of first responders and their kin in the event that a major injury or tragedy befalls a first responder. In addition to these exemptions, first responders also need the robust protections offered by a life insurance policy.

Although many traditional commercial life insurance companies are unable to provide coverage to first responders due to the high risks associated with the profession, AFBA offers life insurance policies specifically designed for first responders and their loved ones

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