Cheyenne Man Challenges Veterans Tax Exemption Law In Wyoming Supreme Court

in News/Wyoming Supreme Court

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By Jim Angell, Cowboy State Daily

A Cheyenne man is challenging a Wyoming law that gives veterans a discount on their property taxes, saying it improperly limits the benefit to people who have been state residents for at least three years.

The Wyoming Supreme Court is to hear oral arguments on Oct. 14 in the appeal filed by Sean Martin over the residency requirement.

Martin is arguing the requirement for three years of residency violates the equal protection clause of the U.S. Constitution and unfairly discriminates against veterans who have been state residents for less time.

“It actively discriminates between two classes of property owners who are already acknowledged to be bona fide Wyoming residents,” Martin’s appeal said.

Wyoming law allows veterans who have lived in the state for at least three years a tax exemption on the value of their homes of $3,000.

According to Martin’s appeal, he was unable to obtain the exemption because he has not been a Wyoming resident for three years.

Martin sued Laramie County’s commissioners and assessors over the decision and a state district court granted a summary judgment in the county’s favor.

In his appeal, Martin argued that by making the tax exemption available only to people who have lived in Wyoming for three years, it treats veterans in different ways based on how long they have lived in the state, which he said is a violation of the Constitution’s equal protection clause.

The state district court, in its order, said the Legislature could have believed that the residency requirement would persuade veterans to move to Wyoming for the long term.But Martin’s appeal disagreed.

“Providing a tax exemption to qualifying veterans who buy a residence in the state immediately would surely result in more veterans moving to Wyoming than a scheme that requires them to wait three years,” it said. “If the objective of the discrimination is genuinely to encourage migration, the three-year waiting period not only fails to serve that purpose, it discourages it.”

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