In addition to the federal veterans benefits available through the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, the State of Georgia also offers benefits to resident veterans in the state. Here are the primary state benefits available in Georgia.
There are several tax exemptions available to resident veterans in Georgia.
State Income Tax Abatement
If a service member or veteran dies from service-connected disabilities incurred while on duty in a combat zone, Georgia state income tax will not be charged for the year of death or for any prior years that came to an end on or after the first day of active duty in a combat zone.
Vehicle Property Tax Exemption
A vehicle tax exemption is available to veterans who are found to be 100% disabled by the VA due to service-connected disabilities or who are entitled to VA compensation due to:
- actual loss, or permanent loss of use, of one or both feet
- actual loss, or permanent loss of use, of one or both hands
- loss of vision in one or both eyes, and/or
- severe vision impairment in one or both eyes.
This tax abatement is available only for a vehicle owned by the veteran and that has a disabled veteran license plate.
Vehicle Sales Tax Exemption
If a veteran receives a grant from the VA to buy a vehicle and have it adapted due to disability, he or she does not have to pay the state sales tax on the purchase of that vehicle.
Business Certificate of Exemption
Eligible veterans in Georgia do not have to pay taxes for business licenses or other occupational fees related to peddling, operating a business, or practicing a profession.
Eligibility for this business-fee exemption requires:
- a discharge under honorable conditions from the U.S. military
- an income below state income taxable levels, and
- a service-connected disability rated at 25% for service in peacetime or 10% for service in wartime.
State Employment Preference
Georgia law provides a state employment preference for veterans. War veterans receive a five-point employment preference credit, while veterans with a service-connected disability rated at least 10% during the last six months get a 10-point credit. (Veterans who meet the eligibility requirements for both five and 10 points cannot receive both.) These points get added to a veteran's civil service exam score. Importantly, only veterans who are already employed under the State Merit system are eligible for preference.
Eligibility for Employment Preference
Eligibility for these employment preference credits for jobs with the State of Georgia requires active duty U.S. military service for more than 180 days during a period of war and a discharge under honorable conditions. However, veterans who served for any length of time during Operation Desert Shield or Operation Desert Storm during a period the Department of Defense designated as “imminent danger” are also eligible for this preference.
The employment preference is also available to spouses, surviving spouses, and spouses of disabled veterans who meet the above criteria.
How to Apply for Preference
To apply for the five- or 10-point credit, you must submit documentation to the hiring agency at the time the job application is submitted. Documentation may include your DD214, disaiblity rating, and marriage certificate. For further information about veterans preference and how to apply, visit the Georgia.gov veterans preference page.
Georgia HERO Scholarship
The Georgia HERO Scholarship Program provides education grants for Georgia National Guard and U.S. reservists who served in combat zones, as well as their children. HERO stands for “Helping Educate Reservists and their Offspring.” The scholarship provides $2,000 per year for four years, and the total amount awarded cannot exceed $8,000.
Eligibility for the HERO Scholarship requires that a veteran be a Georgia resident who had active duty service outside the U.S. in a combat zone on or after February 1, 2003 for at least 181 days in a row, unless discharged due to injury or illness. A child of an eligible veteran who was born before the period of service or within nine months of the time service began also qualifies, so long as that child was 25 or younger during that period of service.
A child of a resident veteran who was killed while serving in a combat zone on or after February 1, 2003 or became 100% disabled or died as result of combat-incurred injuries is also eligible. Again, that child must have been born before the period of service or within nine months of the time service began. The child must have been 25 or younger during that period of service.
The spouse of a Georgia veteran who was killed on or after February 1, 2003 while serving in a combat zone, or died or became 100% disable due to combat-related disabilities, is also eligible for the HERO scholarship.
For more information about this program, including how to apply and the types of educational institutions where awards can be used, visit the Georgia HERO Scholarship Program website.
Additional Veterans Benefits in Georgia
For information about additional veterans benefits in Georgia, read the brochure State Benefits for Georgia veterans.