In recognition of their service to their country, veterans of the United States Armed Forces are entitled to an extensive system of benefits. Unfortunately, many veterans are not aware of the full extent of these benefits and don’t take full advantage of them. While the legal jargon used by the government to describe these benefits can sometimes be confusing, it pays to stay informed of veterans rights and entitlements. Government benefits offer significant financial aid to veterans, ranging from tax breaks to government-guaranteed home loans (not to mention the plethora of non-real-estate benefits). So it is important that veterans–and co-op buildings that have veteran shareholders–make themselves aware of the benefits that they are entitled to.
The City of New York Department of Finance gives property tax exemptions to qualified veterans of the U.S. Armed Forces. When a veteran lives in a co-op building, the board includes this exemption on the building’s tax forms, but 100 percent of the veterans tax break should be returned to the veteran.
"Many co-op boards take this tax abatement and spread it out among all the shareholders in the building," says Kenneth Jacobs, an attorney with Manhattan law firm of Smith, Buss & Jacobs.
When co-op boards spread the tax abatement among all the shareholders in a building, it is usually done more out of ignorance than dishonesty, but the exemption is for the veteran–it its entirety–and nice as it is to share the wealth, that’s not the reason the exemption exists.