When veterans return home after being wounded during service, they face innumerable challenges, one of which is often just getting into and navigating around their own houses.
Several charities, including Building for America’s Bravest, the Gary Sinise Foundation, and Operation Homefront, have stepped up to provide wounded veterans with customized homes equipped with ramps, wide doorways and appliances accessible to people in wheelchairs. While these specialized houses are free, they often saddle veterans with a large annual tax bill, which some struggle to afford (especially if their injuries prevent them from working).
Nick Mapson, injured by two IEDs while serving in Afghanistan, is a recipient of a customized home from New American Homes, Inc. “It’s hard to explain all the widened doorways, all the easy accessible things throughout the house, the stoves the microwave, just a whole bunch of the things a lot of people take for granted,” Mapson, who lives in the Chicago area, tells Fox 18.
Mapson described the home as “the most amazing gift.” But then he learned how much he owed in property taxes. “We came to find out that they were almost $11,000 a year. That was out of our tax bracket for us to pay.”
Thankfully, Illinois recently passed a law, Senate Bill 2905, that eases the property tax burden faced by wounded veterans. Prior to the law, up to $70,000 of a wounded veteran’s home’s value was tax exempt, but only if the Disabled American Veterans built it. Now up to $100,000 of the home’s assessed value is exempt from taxes on homes donated by any nonprofit or individual to wounded veterans.
Mapson was relieved. “Now with the bill it affects everybody,” he says. “Veterans in Illinois that have donated homes and specially adapted homes built by the V.A. This is a pretty huge moment for us.”