The second half of Tennessee’s 108th General Assembly is in full swing and state Rep. Eric Watson has introduced a bill that, if passed, would exempt honorably discharged U.S. veterans with a 100 percent disability from paying sales and use tax on “any tangible personal property or services that they purchase.”
House Bill 1475 was introduced by Watson, R-Cleveland representing the 22nd Legislative District, last session but it was not passed. The bill died in the House finance committee due to concerns of insufficient available funding to implement the exemption.
“We are really excited. Hopefully, it will pass with flying colors,” Watson said.
He said he believes the state’s financial status is better now than when the bill was originally filed in the Legislature’s opening session last year.
The state representative said the bill originated in Bradley County when resident Randy Fox asked him to file a bill that would give sales tax exemption to 100 percent disabled veterans.
“I’m always looking for something to honor the veterans,” Fox said.
Among his efforts has been helping fellow veterans navigate Veterans Affairs paperwork to qualify for disability.
Fox is a veteran of the Vietnam conflict.
Fox said he meets with other Vietnam veterans to talk about what they or their states are doing for the veterans. He pointed out some of these veterans mentioned their states grant 100 percent disabled veterans sales tax exemption.
“This is a bill that has been filed in other states,” Watson said.
Fox said Michigan had just passed a similar law and Colorado also has one.
Watson said in a released statement, “The veterans have given so much to us that it is time that we give back to them.”
The bill will come before the General Assembly in two weeks and may be assigned to a committee.
Watson said plans are also underway to cut the sales tax on food by half a percent again this year. An initial half-cent decrease in the sales tax on food was passed in 2012.
Watson’s district is comprised of Meigs and Polk counties, and part of Bradley County.
Three other members of the Bradley County legislative delegation who are expected to weigh in on the proposed veterans legislation are state Rep. Kevin Brooks, R-Cleveland, representing the 24th Legislative District; state Sen. Mike Bell, R-Riceville, representing the 9th Senatorial District; and state Sen. Todd Gardenhire, R-Chattanooga, representing the 10th Senatorial District.