TAVARES — The Lake County Department of Community Services, Veterans Services Division, is unveiling a new program that will reimburse homeowners a portion of their property taxes if they have served on active military duty in a combat zone. For each qualifying year, the property-tax reimbursement is equal to the homeowner's ad valorem taxes to the Lake County Board of County Commissioners or $1,000, whichever is less.
"I think this is great," said County Commissioner Linda Stewart, who encouraged County staff to find a way to help active military personnel who were serving in oversea conflicts. "We have service men and women risking their lives in foreign countries for us. This is the least we can do to help them while they are protecting our freedoms abroad."
There are no income requirements for homeowners applying for the program. The only stipulations are that homeowners need to have served or are serving on an active military combat duty and served a minimum of 30 days, after Jan. 1, 2002, on active military combat duty. (Combat zones are those designated by U.S. State Department of Defense.) Eligibility for the program will extend 10 years from the last period of service in a combat zone.
A few exceptions to the program include: a service member whose military service was interrupted due to being wounded in action or by any other serious medical condition and is unable to meet the time requirement also qualifies for the reimbursement; and an un-remarried spouse of a qualifying service member who was killed in combat will also qualify for the grant, regardless of the amount of time served in a combat zone by the decedent.
Homeowners applying for the program will be required to provide proof of combat service, such as Leave and Earning Statement reflecting combat pay; letter from unit commander attesting to combat duty and dates; or any other acceptable official document specifying dates of combat duty. Those applying will also be required to show proof of receiving homestead exemption on the property and proof of payment of County ad valorem taxes during the qualifying year.
For more information or to apply for the program, call Tom Osebold, Director of the Lake County Veterans Services Division, at (352) 742-6586 or fill out an application available online.