A flag-draped coffin, the tolling of bells, shrouded badges, flags at half-mast—these are symbols and traditions from the funerals of military members and first responders who have given the last full measure of devotion and died in the line of duty. SB 5104, sponsored by Sen. Steve O’Ban, R-University Place, would recognize that sacrifice through a permanent exemption in the state property tax for the residence of the surviving spouse. The measure passed out of the Senate today on a 34 to 14 vote with one excused.
SB 5104 grants the surviving spouses of military, police and firefighters who died in the line of duty an exemption from excess and regular real property taxes on their primary residence. Surviving spouses who choose to move would be able to transfer the exemption to a replacement residence, but the exemption applies only to one residence in any given year. The exemption is renewable every six years.
“Surviving spouses endure this loss for a lifetime,” said O’Ban. “This is a way for the state to honor and remember that sacrifice while easing the burden on those left behind.”
Safeguards within the legislation would protect the exemption in the event the surviving spouse is hospitalized, placed in assisted living, or moved to a nursing home. Any person signing a false claim would be guilty of perjury.
“The State of Washington and Pierce County in particular is home to a lot of military members and veterans,” O’Ban said. “In this state, we honor sacrifice.”