Dec 30 deadline for deployment related property tax refund

If you are active duty or retired military who owns a home in Hillsborough County in Florida and served more than 45 days on deployment in 2008, you qualify for a combat grant that refunds up to $1,500 from your property taxes for that year. The deadline to get the required paperwork in for year 2008 is today, Dec. 30 at 5 pm. (If you live in other parts of Florida, check with your county’s VA office as well as your county administration because many counties offer similar programs to the one in Hillsborough that refund part of your property taxes if you were deployed.) Important: You have to file the application in person – you can get all the forms online but the military member or someone with a power of attorney for that military member has to submit the application in person.

If you deployed for more than 45 days in 2009 or 2010, you can apply for those years now too. My husband, USAF Senior Master Sgt Rex Temple and I did that yesterday at the Windhorst Road office near Falkenburg. The process took less than 10 minutes and the staff at the Veterans Administration office was tremendously helpful. We qualified for the maximum of $1,500 for both 2009 and 2010 as Rex was deployed for a full year in Afghanistan. As a military family we certainly know how much a $3,000 refund means to our budget.

USAF SMSgt Rex Temple at Serobi dam in Afghanistan in 2009.

The process was rather simple. Once you find the right page on the county government website, you simply follow the steps. The time consuming part is finding the receipts for the taxes; fortunately for us I keep pretty good records and found both the tax collectors tax estimate and also the receipt for the payment with relatively little digging. We also needed a copy of Rex’s deployment orders and his military ID card.

If you want apply for your combat grant/property tax refund, you have to get started on the web. You get started at this link:

http://www.hillsboroughcounty.org/veteransaffairs/combatdutygrant/combatgrantprograms.cfm

Once on that page, you click on the Combat Grants for 2008 and 2009 button.

http://www.hillsboroughcounty.org/veteransaffairs/combatdutygrant/combatgrant2008.cfm

By the way, this also applies to people who have already retired as long as they were deployed for 45 days or more in 2008. And even though the web page only mentions 2008 and 2009, you can also apply for the grant for 2010.

Here are some lessons we learned from filing our application.

1. Make sure you have a copy of your deployment orders to submit with the application.

2. If your home is in the name of your non-military spouse because it was purchased before you got married, bring a copy of your marriage certificate (copy is fine, it does not need to be notarized). The military member whose name is not on the title will qualify for the refund since the home is a joint marital asset.

3. A lot of military families have recently applied for the grant so there will be some delay in getting your application processed. The website says applicants should allow 30 days for processing and to receive payment. But if payment is not received within 45 days, you call the Veteran Affairs Office to determine the nature of the delay. (We were told it would probably take at least 45 days for us to get our refund.)

Here are requirements for the grant being offered to active military and former military members who meet all of the following criteria:

Good luck with your application. And a big thank you to the Hillsborough County Board of County Commissioners for making this grant available for those who deploy to the front lines in service to this nation.

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Navy 2010 Photos: from Haiti to Homecomings

U.S Navy photographers captured more than fighter jets, aircraft carriers and underwater frogmen in the their 2010 retrospective. Take a few minutes to watch and you’ll also see their helping hands in Haiti with a dose of several homecoming photos sprinkled in.

I’m now on a search for similar offerings from Air Force, Army, Coast Guard, National Guard and Marines.

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