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Oklahoma State Senate
Atoka, Bryan, Coal, Johnston & Marshall Counties

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For Immediate Release: February 11, 2009

Sen. Jay Paul Gumm
Senator Jay Paul Gumm

Senator Gumm Pushes Tougher Penalty for Refusing to Honor Disabled Vet Tax Break

The full Senate is the next stop for legislation to ensure disabled vets get a sales tax exemption guaranteed by state law.

Senator Jay Paul Gumm introduced legislation that would put even more teeth in a current state law that entitles Oklahoma veterans with a 100 percent service-connected disability to a sales tax exemption on purchases of up to $25,000 a year. The lawmaker said some retailers have been refusing to honor the exemption.

“I’ve personally heard from veterans who’ve run into trouble trying to get this exemption,” Gumm said. “These are Oklahomans who were willing to sacrifice everything on behalf of their country, and they’ll be disabled the rest of their lives as a result.”

When the tax break – authored by Gumm – was enacted a few years ago, some retailers would not honor the veterans’ exemption. Following that, Gumm wrote and passed a bill imposing a $500 administrative fine for those vendors who refuse to give these veterans their tax break. That measure helped, Gumm said, but some retailers still have “not gotten it.”

The senator’s latest proposal is to make the administrative penalty a criminal offense – a misdemeanor – with the same $500 fine per violation.

“By making it a criminal offense to deny veterans what they earned, we provide the added incentive for every retailer to do what the vast majority of them already do: follow the law and honor our veterans,” Gumm said.

While Gumm had introduced the measure as a stand-alone bill, he decided to attach the language to a bill that would extend the exemption to surviving spouses of eligible veterans. The amendment was approved by the Senate Finance Committee, and then the amended bill – Senate Bill 489 – was approved and forwarded to the full Senate.

“There is no way we can begin to repay these men and women for the sacrifices they’ve made on behalf of each and every one of us,” Gumm said.

“Many of these veterans have very limited incomes as a result of their disabilities—they more than earned this tax break. By changing violations to a misdemeanor, I believe we’ll see greater compliance and more respect shown to our veterans.”

For more information contact:
Sen. Gumm's Office: 405-521-5586

Inon: Horizontal Blue Band

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