Businesses Still Not Giving Disabled Vets A Break

Monday, July 24th 2006, 10:09 am
By: News On 6

It's been just over a year since an Oklahoma law went into effect that exempts disabled veterans from paying sales tax.

Completely disabled vets are supposed to get a break from every business in the state, but as News on 6 reporter Heather Lewin explains, some merchants still aren't giving the discount.

Army Specialist Cecil Brewer was just 20 years old went he was sent to Vietnam. "13 months, 2 weeks, 1 day, 6 hours and about 22 minutes." Wounded twice in combat, Brewer received the Purple Heart and during a medevac, tainted blood that nearly killed him 30 years later. Brewer had to get a liver transplant that left him 100-percent disabled, ending his career as a teacher and coach. "I feel that I've had to give up quite a bit."

Brewer learned the state was giving something back. As of July 2005, vets like Brewer no longer have to pay sales tax. But Brewer says when he goes into some local stores and restaurants the businesses won't comply. "I've been told everything from, 'we don't know about this law' to 'we don't participate in it.'"

They refuse, over very little money, he says one wouldn't take the tax off a 2 liter bottle of soda. “It's really, really frustrating when something's been granted you by your government and then it's not honored by the very citizens you fought for to be able to enjoy free enterprise and everything and they won't honor it."

Since our story last year, the Oklahoma Tax Commission sent this letter to thousands of merchants explaining the new law. The state learned some businesses “still” didn't honor the exemption cards saying they chose not to serve the veteran as a customer.

Now another law has been passed, if a merchant denies the disabled vet a discount, the business can be fined $500.

For Brewer, a decorated vet and single father living on a pension, denying his card is a slap in the face. "I think it should be honored. I've paid quite a price for this."
The penalty for denying the discount to a veteran who shows proof of exemption goes into effect next month.