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Tax Relief for Veterans in California

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Alisson Ward

Tax Professional | Content Writer

Benefits Beyond Property Taxes

Tax Relief for Veterans in California

Veterans, who have selflessly served their country, deserve support and appreciation for their sacrifices. In California, various tax relief programs and benefits are available to honorably discharged veterans. While many are familiar with property tax exemptions for veterans, there are several other tax relief programs that extend beyond property taxes. In this blog post, we will explore the tax relief initiatives in California dedicated to veterans, shedding light on the benefits beyond property taxes.

1. Property Tax Exemptions

One of the most well-known forms of tax relief for veterans in California is the property tax exemption. The Homeowners’ Property Tax Exemption is available to eligible veterans, providing a reduction in the assessed value of their property for tax purposes.

To be eligible for the property tax exemption, veterans must meet certain criteria:

  • Honorably Discharged: The veteran must have an honorable discharge from active duty.
  • Residency Requirement: The veteran must be a resident of California.
  • Principal Residence: The exemption is applicable to the veteran’s principal residence.
  • Percentage of Exemption: The percentage of exemption varies based on the veteran’s service-connected disability rating.

2. Income Tax Exemptions

California offers income tax exemptions for veterans, including those who were honorably discharged. This means that a portion of a veteran’s income may be exempt from state income tax. The exemptions may vary based on factors such as disability status and income levels.

Here are some key income tax exemptions for veterans in California:

  • Military Retirement Income: California does not tax military retirement pay, regardless of the veteran’s age.
  • Survivor’s Benefits: Survivors of military personnel who died in the line of duty are also eligible for certain tax exemptions and benefits.
  • Disabled Veterans’ Exemption: Disabled veterans may be eligible for additional income tax exemptions. The amount of exemption varies based on the veteran’s disability rating.

3. Vehicle License Fee Waiver

Another significant tax relief program for veterans in California is the Vehicle License Fee Waiver. This program exempts qualified veterans from paying the vehicle license fee for one passenger motor vehicle, motorcycle, or commercial vehicle.

Eligibility for the Vehicle License Fee Waiver includes:

  • Service-Connected Disabilities: Veterans with a 100% service-connected disability or a 100% disability rating due to individual unemployability.
  • Specially Adapted Housing Grant Recipients: Veterans who have received a specially adapted housing grant from the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA).

4. Sales and Use Tax Exemptions

California offers exemptions on sales and use tax for certain purchases made by veterans. This exemption extends to both honorably discharged veterans and current members of the armed forces. It covers the purchase of vehicles, vessels, and aircraft.

To be eligible for the sales and use tax exemption, veterans must meet specific criteria:

  • Residency Requirement: The veteran must be a California resident.
  • Qualifying Purchase: The exemption is applicable to qualifying purchases, including vehicles, vessels, and aircraft.

5. College Fee Waivers

California provides fee waivers for eligible dependents of veterans and National Guard members. These fee waivers can significantly reduce the cost of higher education, making it more accessible for the children of veterans.

Eligibility for the college fee waivers includes:

  • Dependents of Disabled Veterans: Dependents of service-connected disabled veterans may qualify for a fee waiver at a California Community College, California State University, or University of California campus.
  • Dependents of Deceased or Disabled Veterans: Dependents of deceased or totally disabled veterans may also be eligible for a fee waiver at a California Community College, California State University, or University of California campus.

6. California Veterans Homes Property Tax Exemption

California Veterans Homes, operated by the California Department of Veterans Affairs (CalVet), provide long-term care to California’s veterans. The properties owned and operated by CalVet are eligible for a property tax exemption.

This exemption ensures that the California Veterans Homes do not incur property taxes, allowing the facilities to allocate resources more effectively for the care and support of veterans.


Tax relief for veterans in California extends far beyond property tax exemptions. From income tax exemptions to vehicle license fee waivers and college fee waivers, the state offers a range of benefits to honorably discharged veterans and their families. These programs aim to recognize the sacrifices made by veterans and provide financial support and assistance in various aspects of their lives.

It’s essential for veterans and their families to stay informed about the available tax relief programs, eligibility criteria, and application processes. Leveraging these benefits can significantly ease the financial burden and enhance the quality of life for those who have served our nation. Additionally, seeking assistance from tax professionals or veterans service organizations can help navigate these programs effectively and ensure veterans receive all the benefits they deserve.

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