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Bill to help veterans signed into law

ND taxpayers allowed to contribute to veterans fund

BISMARCK — North Dakota veterans needing services such as hearing aids and glasses will benefit from a bill recently signed into law.

House Bill 1248, sponsored by Rep. Karla Rose Hanson, D-Fargo, adds a checkoff on the state income tax form to enable North Dakotans to contribute to the Veterans Postwar Trust Fund. The fund assists qualifying veterans and their eligible dependents with unmet medical needs, including dentures, eyeglasses, hearing aids and transportation to medical appointments.

Taxpayers can voluntarily contribute a portion of their income tax refunds or add to their tax liability, starting with taxable years after Dec. 31, 2018.

The bill passed the House and Senate with broad support, and Gov. Doug Burgum signed it on April 8.

“Our military veterans and their families have sacrificed for our state and country. While the North Dakota Legislature supports our veterans in many ways, we know there are often unmet medical needs,” Hanson said. “This bill helps veterans access these necessary services without increasing government spending.”

HB 1248 started as an idea from Rick Olek of Fargo, a Vietnam veteran and volunteer at the Fargo VA hospital.

“North Dakota and the federal government have many programs in place for veterans, but there are always gaps in these programs that don’t cover all veteran needs,” Olek said. “This bill is a win-win for North Dakota taxpayers, our veterans and their families.”

The Veterans Postwar Trust Fund was established in 1981 and became a permanent trust fund under the North Dakota Constitution in 1997. Earnings from the fund are administered by the Administrative Committee on Veterans Affairs, which sets income limits and eligibility guidelines for using the fund.

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