The Veterans' Exemption provides exemption of property not to exceed $4,000 for qualified veterans who own limited property (see Revenue and Taxation Code section 205). The Veterans' Exemption may be claimed by a person currently serving in the military service or one who has been honorably discharged, the unmarried surviving spouse or either parent of a deceased veteran meeting the service requirements. In order to qualify for this exemption, the claimant may not own property, real or personal, worth more in aggregate than $5,000 if the claimant is single. If married, the couple may not own property worth more than $10,000. In addition, the claimant must have lived in California on the lien date, January 1.
In order to qualify for the Veterans' Exemption, a person must first be considered a veteran by the government by meeting certain criteria regarding his or her service as a veteran. A veteran means either of the following:
- A person serving or has served in and has been discharged under honorable conditions from service, in the United States Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps, Coast Guard, or Revenue Marine (Revenue Cutter) Service; and served in any of the following (Article XIII, section 3, subdivisions (o), (p), and (q) California Constitution):
- in time of war
- in time of peace in a campaign or expedition for which a medal has been issued to the veteran by Congress
- in time of peace and because of a service-connected disability was released from active duty
Persons from the National Guard or National Guard Reserve who are called into active service as part of the Armed Forces of the United States may also qualify for the Veterans' Exemption.
There are 26 wars and 4 campaigns that qualify for the Veterans' Exemptions under subdivisions (o), (p), and (q) of Section 3 of Article XIII (section 205). The majority of the wars and campaigns listed are over 100 years ago, dating back to the Revolutionary War. Twenty-one of the 26 wars that ended prior to 1892 are not listed below since the likelihood of any qualified veterans, or if deceased, their spouses or parents, are no longer living. The following wars or campaigns are those which may still have living qualified claimants:
- War with Germany-Austria, April 6, 1917 - November 11, 1918
- World War II, December 7, 1941 - January 1, 1947
- Campaign against the North Koreans and Chinese Communists in Korea, June 27, 1950 - January 31, 1955
- Campaign against the Viet Cong and North Vietnamese Communists in South Vietnam, August 5, 1964 - May 8, 1975
- First Nicaraguan campaign, July 29, 1912 - November 14, 1912
- Second Nicaraguan campaign, August 27, 1926 - January 2, 1933
- Yangtze River campaign in China, September 3, 1926 - October 21, 1927 or March 1, 1930 - December 31, 1932
- All other campaigns for service in which a medal has been issued to the veteran by the Congress of the United States
To apply for the Veterans' Exemption, a claim must be filed each year with the assessor of the county where the property is located. The claim form, BOE-261, Claim for Veterans' Exemption, is available from the county assessor. To receive the full 100 percent exemption for property owned on the January 1 lien date, the claim must be filed by February 15.