To The Editor
The Estherville VFW did not pay their property tax bill in September and here is why:
Iowa law says property of associations of war veterans (VFW's & American Legions) shall not be taxed.
For years the VFW has been paying property tax based on a 50% exemption granted by the Emmet County Assessor and we thank her for that.
But last spring we received notice that the assessed value of our property in Estherville went from $94,400 to $250,400. Consequently our property tax bill increased by 166%.
Our Commander, Mike Dalen, is also District Commander and oversees 15 VFW posts. At one of the district meetings, he asked how much the various posts paid in property taxes. Only 2 of the 15 paid any property tax to their county Estherville & Armstrong.
At the next state VFW meeting, Mike asked the state officers about VFW's paying property taxes and was told that state law exempts veteran's organizations from paying property tax. We should be 100% exempt according to the state VFW folks.
When I relayed the above information to the Emmet County Assessor, she was surprised by that because she thought she was following the law by granting the 50% exemption.
To her credit, she and her staff conducted a comprehensive survey of county assessors throughout the state to see what exemptions they give to veteran's organizations in their counties.
The purpose of the survey was to prove to us that she was not the only assessor to give partial tax exemption to veteran's organizations. The survey does show that she is not the only one.
But what the survey also shows is that 89% of the county assessors give a 100% exemption to veteran's organizations in their counties.
To name a few locations in surrounding counties:
Spencer VFW---------100% Exempt
Emmetsburg VFW---100% Exempt
Algona VFW-----------100% Exempt
Rock Rapids VFW--- 100% Exempt
Pocahontas American Legion----100% Exempt
Spirit Lake American Legion----100% Exempt
Even in Emmet County, the Ringsted American Legion gets 100% exemption but Armstrong & Estherville VFW's do not. That is neither consistent or fair.
We were unable to convince the Emmet County Assessor to be consistent in her own county and give Armstrong & Estherville VFW's 100% exemption on property taxes in the future.
We will be going before the Emmet County Board of Supervisors in the near future to request abatement of the current property taxes. Hopefully common sense will prevail with them.
Steven D. Woodley
For the VFW Post 3388 Board
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