The Tinton Falls Borough Council plans to establish a policy regarding tax breaks for totally disabled veterans.
Under state law, persons certified by the Veterans Administration as 100 percent disabled because of their service can apply to be exempted from paying local property taxes.
In the absence of a formal policy, the borough has been granting exemptions retroactively to the date that the VA declares the veteran 100 percent disabled.
Thomas Fallon, the borough’s chief financial officer, told the council Tuesday night of a recent case in which tax payments totaling $40,000 and dating back to 2009 were refunded to an applicant.
Council President Gary A. Baldwin, a partially disabled veteran, warned that the borough could have to raise taxes if too many large refunds were approved.
“I want to be careful to protect the taxpayers,” Baldwin said. He noted that when refunds are issued, the borough pays back amounts levied by Monmouth County and school districts, but those entities have already spent the money and do not reimburse Tinton Falls.
Fallon said the council had several alternatives as far as a policy for the future is concerned. Among them would be to maintain the present practice, grant exemptions as of the date of application, or give refunds for the entire year during which applications are filed.
Baldwin said it was his experience that the VA informed veterans in a timely fashion about the range of benefits and programs available to them.
Councilwoman Nancyanne Fama proposed that the borough implement a policy stating that exemptions take effect as of the time of application. Councilman Christopher Pak raised the possibility of giving refunds for the entire year during which the application was filed but said he was agreeable to Fama’s proposal.
Baldwin directed staff members to prepare a resolution establishing the time of application as the starting date for exemptions.
According to Fallon, the finance officer, there are 22 current properties in Tinton Falls affected by the disabled veterans exemption. Those properties represent approximately $8.4 million in assessed valuation. Fallon said the borough would collect $170,000 a year if the 22 properties were not exempt.