From Illinois Business Journal news services
EDWARDSVILLE — Madison County will once again offer a program to provide property tax relief for struggling veterans.
Treasurer Kurt Prenzler and Veterans’ Assistance Commission Superintendent Brad Lavite are joining forces to assist honorably discharged veterans.
“This program is in its second year,” Lavite said. “Last year, we were able to help eight veterans. It lifted a huge weight from their shoulders to get help in paying their property taxes.”
Prenzler said that people are especially nervous about not being able to pay property taxes: Taxes not paid for a long period of time can result in loss of a home.
“This is a relatively simple program to pay a veteran’s taxes,” Prenzler said. “It’s not a loan. Veterans don’t have to repay this assistance.”
Lavite said the program is a county one, not federal, which makes it simpler to apply.
“The goal of this program is to keep a veteran in his or her home,” he said. “It costs more to relocate and to set someone up in another place that it does to keep them in their home.”
The VAC provides emergency aid and services to approximately 45,000 veterans and their families throughout Madison County.
Each year, the VAC assists thousands of veterans with rent payments to avoid eviction or with utility payments to avoid shut-off. They also refer the homeless/transitional for housing, as well as provide food/family essentials, miscellaneous disability care expenses, and other assistance as needed.
“This program is just another step in making sure veterans get help in a time of need,” Lavite said.
He said this program can assist honorably discharged veterans, even those who don’t qualify for property tax exemptions.
“There are veterans out there who qualify for assistance and never apply,” he said. “We want to make sure they get any and all of the assistance they can.”
To qualify, a veteran must provide proof of an Honorable Discharge (DD-214) from active duty with the U.S. Military, along with proof of ownership of the property, (i.e., a tax bill or the property deed in the veteran’s name). The veteran also must have proof of income and the inability to pay.
Lavite said that the property must be the veteran’s primary residence for which he/she is applying for assistance. A veteran also must meet income guidelines and agree to adhere to the VAC program guidelines, which include participating in the Jobs Program or applying for VA service-connected and pension claims, health care benefits, or Aid and Attendance benefits.
A widow or a widower of a veteran, as well as the disabled child of a veteran older than 18, also may qualify.
“Our goal is to make sure the needs of a veteran or his/her family members are being met,” Lavite said.
Veterans must contact the VAC no later than Dec. 1, to receive property tax assistance. The first due for property taxes is July 9 and subsequent payments are Sept. 9, Oct. 9 and Dec. 9.
Contact the Veterans’ Assistance Commission at (618) 296-4554 for more information.