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Riverhead Town will be able to increase by nearly 40 percent the real property tax exemptions it grants to veterans if a bill that passed the New York State Legislature last week is signed into law by Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

Riverhead already grants veterans the maximum real property tax exemption allowed by current law.

The town currently exempts from taxation up to $54,000 of assessed value of a veteran’s qualifying residential property. Eligible combat veterans currently get an additional exemption of up to $36,000 and the maximum exemption for disabled veterans is currently $180,000.

Those limits would be increased to $75,000, $50,000 and $250,000 respectively if Cuomo signs the bill and the town board amends town code to increase the existing limits, which were adopted in 2006.

The legislation was sponsored by State Sen. Ken LaValle in the senate and by Assemblyman Fred Thiele in the Assembly, where Assemblyman Anthony Palumbo was its co-sponsor.

“The incredible rise in real property values over the last several years has forced veterans to relocate out-of-state where the cost of living and property taxes are dramatically lower,” LaValle and Thiele said in a press release announcing the law.

“Our veterans selflessly gave of themselves to make our country the greatest country in the world. We owe them a tremendous amount of gratitude, and enabling the tax exemption increase to reasonable levels is the least we can do to show our appreciation,” LaValle said.

“New York is faced with some of the highest property taxes in the nation. We simply cannot allow our veterans to be pushed out of their homes after making the sacrifices they did,” Thiele said.

If the bill is signed into law, it would become effective on Jan. 2 of 2016, but the exemptions would not be increased until such time as the town board holds a public hearing on a code amendment to adopt the higher limits.

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