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MILITARY MATTERS: Veterans in SC could see tax exemptions expansion

Published: Feb. 2, 2022 at 8:26 PM EST
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COLUMBIA, SC (WTVM) - Just like in Georgia, the state of South Carolina has several military installations - prompting people to make the Palmetto State their home after their years in uniform, and many of them could see changes in benefits in the near future.

After serving more than 30 years in the U.S. Army, Command Sergeant Major Lamont Christian, a native New Yorker, decided to make South Carolina home for this next chapter of his life.

“It’s several reasons: the climate, the people, the culture,” CSM (Ret) Lamont Christian said. And his new service role is helping veterans heal through the Warrior PATHH Program at the Big Red Barn Retreat near Columbia.

“And be able to move forward in a way that they can live the life that they deserve,” CSM (Ret) Christian said.

But there’s one area where South Carolina doesn’t offer quite as much to veterans as other states – how much they pay in state taxes on their military retirement. 35 states, including Alabama, currently have full exemptions on these benefits. Those exemptions are partial in Georgia and South Carolina.

“Now’s the time to get to 100% and, ideally, it comes at one time so that we really get that money back in the pockets of those people who have served long and faithfully,” SC Department of Veterans’ Affairs Secretary Will Grimsley said.

Lawmakers in several states, right now, are discussing bills to address those issues, including possibly making all military retirement income tax-deductible. In South Carolina, this is part of a larger bill which would also cut income tax for all people in the state by 1 percent.

“It would give me the opportunity to be able to use that additional income that normally would be taxed to invest,” CSM (Ret) Christian said.

SC Veterans Affairs Secretary Will Grimsley notes, a lot of these veterans are still many years away from a full retirement from the working world, at a time when just about every state faces a worker shortage.

“Very active, capable employability. That’s a fit, motivated, disciplined, well-trained, well-educated leader. So why can’t we just take that last little step, give them that little bit of the cash back for them and their families?,” Secretary Grimsley said.

While some southeastern states are considered appealing places for former soldiers, the number of military retirees younger than 65 in South Carolina is declining.

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