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Military widow says Texas law costs her thousands

GEORGETOWN, Texas (KXAN) — The saying “time heals all wounds” just isn’t true for Miriam Dugan.

“I don’t think about him every day,” Dugan said through tears.

Nearly 30 years after her husband Donald’s death, the Georgetown widow still gets emotional when talking about him.

“The love he gave me was so strong that I will always be in love with him… [recording] You will cry,” Dugan said.

1996, Sgt. Donald Dugan was months away from retiring from the U.S. Army when he was last deployed. He died in Croatia.

“That was the worst day,” recalls Dugan.

Heartbroken, Dugan never remarried and raised his two daughters alone in the Killeen home. Just a few years ago she moved to Georgetown.

  • A plaque honoring the memory and sacrifice of Sgt. Donald Dugan. (KXAN Photo/Mike Rush)
  • A plaque honoring the memory and sacrifice of Sgt. Donald Dugan. (KXAN Photo/Mike Rush)
  • Miriam Dugan examines documents related to her tax exemption (KXAN Photo/Mike Rush)

It was after that move that the profits Dugan depended on became a problem. As the widow of a man who died while serving in the military, Dugan is entitled to Gold, his star spouse, and exempts him from 100% of his home’s property taxes in Texas.

But last year she received a tax notice that owed her over $5,500.

She said the Williamson County Tax Department told her. I have to pay the difference. “

Dugan thought it was wrong, but it was right. According to Texas law, if a spouse moves out of a home that was originally tax exempt, that tax exemption also applies, based on the value of the leaving home.

Therefore, if the new house is more expensive, the widow or widower will have to pay tax on the difference.

“I think it’s sad,” Gold Star Wives of America president Tamra Sipes said. “I think the country should look at it and fix this.”

Sipes said each state determines the type of property tax exemption granted to Gold Star spouses.

Florida is like Texas. If the spouse moves to a new home, only the tax exemption from the previous home applies. Arkansas and Oklahoma exempt a Gold Star spouse from paying 100% of her property taxes, even if they move to another home within the state. Washington State does not offer property tax benefits to a Gold Star spouse unless she is 62 or older and her annual income does not exceed her $40,000.

KXAN investigator Mike Rush asked Sipes, “Are most states not doing well?”

“Yes, we are 100% short. It really depends on our voices being heard,” Sipes said. “We’re such a small voice that it’s really hard to get the attention of legislators and states.

So unless something changes, this exemption that Dugan is counting on will only go so far.

“It would be a complete joke to say, ‘Oh, I’m a Gold Star wife,’ but it doesn’t do me any favors. I still have to pay,” Dugan said.

In Texas, all property tax exemptions are lost when a Gold Star spouse remarries.

KXAN investigator Mike Rush has reached out to Texas legislators on the Commission on Veterans Affairs to see if this is an issue they can address. To go.

https://www.kxan.com/investigations/military-widow-says-texas-law-is-costing-her-thousands/ Military widow says Texas law costs her thousands

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