Area stores deny benefits to disabled vets

Monday, August 15th 2005, 10:05 am
By: News On 6

It was designed to give Oklahoma's disabled veterans a bit of a break financially, but vets say it seems no one knows about a new law no longer requiring them to pay sales tax.

Disappointed veterans were turned away at several area stores recently when they tried to use the discount.

News on 6 reporter Heather Lewin says Sgt. Buster Martin served in Korea and Vietnam. Now after 20 years in the Army, the retired soldier is touched when veterans are remembered.

When a new state law passed granting 100-percent disabled vets sales tax exemption, he was thrilled to get his card. “I would be able to present it at any business in the state of Oklahoma and they would knock off the sales tax." But when he presented the card at stores, they wouldn't honor it. "One lady said well, I would have to go take training on it."

It's the same story for Navy veteran Terresa DeJean. The Bartlesville resident saved up to take her son school shopping in Tulsa. "I was so excited because we were gonna get this discount. Every little bit helps you know, it's not a lot, but it's tremendous when you don't have a lot." But her trip was a bit of a bust when no one knew how to give her the discount. "I've called the tax commission, I've called Governor Henry's office, I've called Senator Inhofe, and I’ve called the Oklahoma Tax Commission, the veteran’s administration." Everyone told her to call someone else and no one answered her question.

Tax commission officials say they've been flooded with calls over the past two weeks from veterans being denied the discount. Officials say they don't understand why merchants wouldn't honor a state document, but they now plan to mail out thousands of letters telling businesses about the change.

Martin wants the program up and running for young veterans just back from Iraq and Afghanistan. “They go over there and give their lives to save people in America and I think anything you can do that's within reason should be done to help them financially." Terresa DeJean: "It's just very, very frustrating. Like I said it's not much, but it could add up to another pair of jeans for my son for school."

Both veterans told us a few businesses worked with them even though they weren't aware of the discount. The law went into effect July 1st.