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Military retirees in South Carolina could soon save money on taxes

A bill that could exempt military retirement income from state income taxes has passed the state House and Senate.

COLUMBIA, S.C. — All military retirement income could soon be exempt from South Carolina income taxes. 

At the State House, both the House and Senate have passed a bill to exempt military retirement income from state income taxes. The bill has bipartisan support to help attract veterans to South Carolina. 

The Senate passed the bill Wednesday, and the House passed it unanimously in February.

“35 states currently don’t tax military [retirement] income," said Representative Bobby Cox, co-sponsor of the bill. "South Carolina will be part of that group and recruit some of those great work skills that we want to have with our veterans,” said Cox, a veteran himself, and a lieutenant colonel in the Army Reserves.

Cox thinks more veterans will move to the Palmetto State if this bill becomes law. He explained that when he was getting out of the Army, "everyone was looking at which state to go to when they were retiring, and a lot of it was based on taxing of the military pay.”

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There are more than 400,000 veterans in South Carolina and about 40,000 of them are military retirees, according to the South Carolina Department of Veterans’ Affairs.

Both the House and Senate already plan to exempt military retiree income in their tax cut proposals. However, a compromise between the chambers on those tax cuts up is up in the air, so Cox said they didn’t want to take any chances with on the military retirement income exemption.

“We wanted to make sure that wasn’t at risk, we didn’t want to play politics with our veterans and retirees, so that’s why it’s a standalone bill to make sure we protect those veterans and all they’ve done for us,” said Cox.

Veterans’ Affairs supports exempting military retirement pay from taxes. The VA says on its website that a full exemption will make South Carolina, “a more competitive state for Veterans to live and work.”

Cox said he’s confident the bill will become law this year.

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