Md. Gov. Moore: Veteran tax relief among ‘most impactful’ bills lawmakers could pass

Maryland lawmakers in Annapolis applauded Gov. Wes Moore after he urged them to support his plan to give military retirees bigger income tax breaks.

When Moore sat down at the witness table before the House Ways and Means Committee, Democratic Del. Vanessa Atterbeary gave Moore a warm welcome, noting that in her eight years in Annapolis, “I have not had a governor come down and testify on any piece of legislation.”

She continued her thank you to Moore “for showing and demonstrating that you are going to be a partner with this legislature.”

Moore, the 63rd governor of Maryland and a veteran himself, said “The Keep Our Heroes Home Act” would be among “the most impactful” bills lawmakers could pass during the current session.

If passed, veterans in the state would see the exemptions on their military pensions jump from the current $15,000 a year to $40,000 in 2024.

Under current law, the tax break on military pensions for veterans under age 55 is $5,000. If approved, the bill would boost that to the same $40,000 exemption allowed for those 55 and older.

Moore contends that the law would incentivize military veterans, who have called Maryland home, to stay in the state instead of moving to places with lower retirement taxes.

Repeating a phrase from his State of the State address, Moore told lawmakers he refuses to let Maryland “be a farm team for other states,” and explained that neighboring Pennsylvania, West Virginia and more than 30 other states do not tax military retirement income.

“And our neighbors to the south, Virginia, just increased their exemption to $40,000 in 2025,” Moore said. “The veterans community continues to serve long after they have taken off the uniform. These are people who have shown a commitment not just to country, but also a commitment to community.”

While the state would lose out on an estimated $30 million in revenues, Moore argues that many retired veterans go on to work in the civilian sector and pay taxes on that income, or further contribute by starting job-generating businesses of their own.

“I have experienced many formative years here in Maryland,” Heidi Fleming, a retired Navy captain and a graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy, told members of the House Ways and Means Committee.

Fleming said the people, location and natural beauty of the state make her want to retire in Maryland.

“However, soon I will research, just like many of my counterparts, where to stretch those military pension dollars.”

Moore’s decision to testify on behalf of his legislation is a departure from his predecessor, Republican Larry Hogan. While Hogan often criticized lawmakers for not passing or taking up some of his administration’s bills, he did not testify before legislative committees during his eight years in office.

Other governors have gone before lawmakers on bills they prioritized, including Republican Robert Ehrlich and Democrats Martin O’Malley and Parris Glendening.

Kate Ryan

As a member of the award-winning WTOP News, Kate is focused on state and local government. Her focus has always been on how decisions made in a council chamber or state house affect your house. She's also covered breaking news, education and more.

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