Entitled to housing tax break? City’s fuzzy words confuse vets

The men and women who served in Iraq and Afghanistan should be getting a 15 percent break on their property taxes, but many aren’t because of bum information being handed out by city workers.

State law stipulates the exemption for all veterans of foreign wars, but New York City’s Department of Finance website doesn’t include Iraq and Afghanistan on its list of conflicts. The roster, though, does mention the “Mexican Border Period” in 1917, World Wars I and II, the Korean War, the Vietnam War and the “Persian Golf conflict.”

Iraq and Afghanistan vets are eligible for the tax relief, but that the wars are considered part of the “Persian Gulf Conflict,” which began in 1990 and continues today, finance spokesman Owen Stone told DNAinfo.

The city’s 311 dispatchers, though, are telling the vets that they don’t qualify for the exemption.

“I called and asked if they were eligible for the benefits and the woman said ‘No,’” said Alex Nicholson, legislative director for Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America, who dialed the information center on Sept. 6 and on Sept. 9.

In response, Stone told DNAinfo that the agency would make sure 311 dispatchers gave the right answer from now on.

Even State Senator Daniel Squadron, who represents parts of northern and central Brooklyn, was under the impression that Iraq and Afghanistan vets are not eligible for the break. He introduced legislation to extend the benefits to veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan, but the proposal never got to the Senate floor for a vote. [DNAinfo]Julie Strickland

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