Because of Nevada’s geography, we often find ourselves trying to meet the needs of rural Nevadans who might be far away from services, and of urban Nevadans who might have to endure long waits to receive services.
One way to address parts of both these needs is to offer as many services as possible online, as we are aiming to do with our Green Zone Network that we will launch this summer. Other state agencies are offering their services online as well, and most recently the Department of Motor Vehicles announced that veterans will now have an online option to process their Government Services Tax exemption.
The exemption is one of the more popular veteran benefits in our state, and it can be valuable, too. Based on certain factors regarding a veteran’s service and disabilities, this exemption can save drivers $80 and sometimes more on their vehicle registration fees. Those factors include veterans who served in certain wartime periods as well as veterans with a service-connected disability rating of 60 percent or greater.
If the veteran meets these criteria, the exemption also can be used by a spouse or a surviving spouse, used toward manufactured home taxes, or used for property taxes within the county the veteran lives in. Although many do not know it, a veteran also can choose to forgo his or her exemption and donate the tax amount to the Nevada State Veterans Home, which is operated in Boulder City by the Nevada Office of Veterans Services.
The Department of Motor Vehicles has been working on this initiative for some time, and it has not been an easy task. Because of the way the exemptions are certified and processed in Nevada, the department had to work with all 17 county assessors in the state to develop and test a process to verify the exemption vouchers that each county issues. While this formerly required veterans to travel from the assessor’s office to the physical location of the DMV, they can now accomplish most of these tasks online.
This initiative is now available throughout most of the state, with other options available in the future as well. For now, veterans in 16 Nevada counties can use the exemption through the DMV website. The Clark County exemption has been held up because of a new computer system, but is expected to be available later this year. Also in the near future, the DMV also will accept exemptions at its new self-service kiosks.
While they were developing this new program, the leaders of this initiative asked me if I would mind serving as a test case for their new online functionality. I happily accepted the offer as a chance to better acquaint myself with a process used by many of the Nevadans we serve. I had not applied for the exemption through the previous system, but I did know that it required veterans to receive their exemption by mail or in person. When I had the chance to sit down and test the new system, I was astonished at how quick and easy the new process is.
As a veteran who is eligible for a certain level of exemption because of the period I served in the Army, the process was simple. Because I had not applied for the exemption before, I had to go to the assessor’s office in my home county and receive my exemption number. Once I had that, all I needed to do was visit the Nevada DMV’s website and apply to renew my vehicle using my veterans’ exemption. The whole process took minutes and was extraordinarily easy.
Innovations like these are important to everyone in our state, and I am pleased to see that they are being developed for the veterans we serve as well. As I mentioned before, we are working on additional online capabilities for our office, and other state, local and federal agencies are, too. Until they all come online, though, be sure to try out this new capability when you need to register your vehicle or pay your property taxes.
Caleb S. Cage is the executive director of the Nevada Office of Veterans Services, appointed by Gov. Brian Sandoval. You can read his blog at http://veterans.nv.gov/blog.