Fully disabled POW veterans seek tax breaks on property
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Fully disabled POW veterans seek tax breaks on property

Date: October 18, 2010
By: Rebecca May
State Capitol Bureau

A ballot proposal initiated by a former POW will be on the November ballot.
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Wrap: John Clark served the U.S. military for a total of 30 years.  For six of those years, he was held as a prisoner of war in North Vietnam.

Now, Clark says he and about 100 other disabled prisoners of war are hoping that Missouri voters will show some appreciation in the form of a tax break for the men and women who have endured hard war times.

A Missouri Veteran Comission official says this type of ballot is already in place in surrounding states.

Benefits and Appeal Specialist of the Comission, Bob Harvey says it's something that should have been done earlier.

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Description: "There were many prisoners of war in WWII and then quite a few in Korea. In Vietnam, there were less than 800 altogether, and then these few conflicts we had since that time a handful each time around. Never any huge numbers."

Although Constitutional Amendment 2 has cleared the legislature without an opposing vote, there is some opposition to the measure.

Founder of the POW network, Mary Schantag says there are two main problems with this tax break.  The first one: it could be too restrictive.

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Description: "Well again there is a limited number of medal of honor recipients, but if you are going to recognize a prisoner of war a medal of honor recipient would be the same thing. I think we have less than 200 alive right now in the country."

Schantag says another problem could be an increase in POW impersonators that try to claim benefits, in this case, exemption from paying property taxes.

However, as a disabled POW, Clark says that applying for benefits is something that is hard to fake.

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Description: "It's an extensive evaluation and very few who actually claim that status are awarded benefits for it."

Clark says although the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs granted him these benefits many have not been so fortunate.

Missouri District 99 official, Mike Sutherland says he thinks the ballot will greatly affect those who qualify.

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Description: "I think that the committee easily voted unanimously to create this exemption for them. It's a limited number of people. There are only a maybe a few hundred people left that would fit into this category to get the exemption, but I still think it's important."

Under the November ballot proposal, any POW who has a full service-inccurred disability and applies will recieve exemption from property taxes, and this includes POW's in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Reporting from the state Capitol I'm Becky May.