California

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Summary of California Military and Veterans Benefits: California offers special benefits for its military Service members and Veterans including Disabled Veteran Property Tax Exemptions, California National Guard Tuition Scholarship Program, Education and Tuition Assistance, Vehicle Tags, as well as Hunting and Fishing License privileges. Eligibility for some benefits may depend on residency, military component and Veteran disability status.

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California Military and Veterans State Benefit Highlights and Eligibility


What are my California Military and Veterans State Tax Benefits?

California Taxes on Retired Military Pay: Follows federal tax rules. All private, local, state and federal pensions are fully taxed.

Learn more about California Taxes on Retired Military Pay

California State Taxes on U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs Military Disability Retired Pay: Military Disability Retirement Pay received as a pension, annuity or similar allowance for personal injury or sickness resulting from active service in the Armed Forces should not be included in taxable income if any of the following conditions apply:

  • You were entitled to receive a disability payment before September 25, 1975;

  • You were a member of the military (active or reserves) or were under a binding written commitment to become a member on September 24, 1975;

  • You receive disability payments for a combat-related injury. This is a personal injury or sickness that:

    • Resulted directly from armed conflict,

    • Took place while you were engaged in extra-hazardous service,

    • Took place under conditions simulating, including training exercises such as maneuvers, or

    • Was caused by an instrumentality of war.

  • You would be entitled to receive disability compensation from the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) if you filed an application for it (the exclusion under this condition equals the amount you would be entitled to from the VA).

Learn more about California State Taxes on U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs Military Disability Retired Pay

California State Taxes on U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs Disability Dependency and Indemnity Compensation: Dependency and Indemnity Compensation (DIC) is a tax-free monetary benefit paid to eligible survivors of military Service members who died in the line of duty or eligible survivors of Veterans whose death resulted from a service-related injury or disease.

Learn more about California State Taxes on U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs Disability Dependency and Indemnity Compensation

young child hugging a tombstone in a veteran cemeteryMilitary Survivor Benefit Plan (SBP)/ Reserve Component Survivor Benefit Plan (RCSBP)/ Retired Serviceman’s Family Protection Plan (RSFPP) California State Tax Benefits: Generally subject to state taxes for those states with income tax. Check with state department of revenue office.

Learn more about Military Survivor Benefit Plan (SBP)/ Reserve Component Survivor Benefit Plan (RCSBP)/ Retired Serviceman’s Family Protection Plan (RSFPP) California State Tax Benefits

California Veteran's Property Tax Exemption: The Veterans' Exemption provides exemption of property not to exceed $4,000 for qualified Veterans who own limited property (see California Revenue and Taxation Code Section 205 ). The Veterans' Exemption may be claimed by a person currently serving in the military service or one who has been honorably discharged, the unmarried Surviving Spouse or either parent of a deceased Veteran meeting the service requirements. In order to qualify for this exemption, the claimant may not own property, real or personal, worth more in aggregate than $5,000 if the claimant is single. If married, the couple may not own property worth more than $10,000. In addition, the claimant must have lived in California on the lien date, January 1.
Who is eligible for the California Veteran's Property Tax Exemption? In order to qualify for the Veterans' Exemption, a person must first be considered a Veteran by the government by meeting certain criteria regarding their service as a Veteran. A Veteran means either of the following:

  • A person serving or has served in and has been discharged under honorable conditions and served in any of the following:

    • in time of war

    • in time of peace in a campaign or expedition for which a medal has been issued to the Veteran by Congress

    • in time of peace and because of a service-connected disability was released from active duty

  • Persons from the National Guard or National Guard Reserve who are called into active service as part of the Armed Forces of the United States may also qualify for the Veterans' Exemption.

To apply for the Veterans' Exemption, a claim must be filed each year with the assessor of the county where the property is located. The claim form, BOE-261, Claim for Veterans' Exemption, is available from the county assessor. To receive the full 100 percent exemption for property owned on the January 1 lien date, the claim must be filed by February 15.
California County Assessor Directory

Learn more about the California Veteran's Property Tax Exemption

California Disabled Veteran Property Tax Exemptions: The Disabled Veterans' Exemption reduces the property tax liability on the principal place of residence of qualified Veterans who, due to a service-connected injury or disease, have been rated 100% disabled or are being compensated at the 100% rate due to unemployability. An unmarried Surviving Spouse of a qualified Veteran may also claim the exemption.

There are two levels of the Disabled Veterans' Exemption:

  • Basic – The basic exemption, also referred to as the $100,000 exemption, is available to all qualifying claimants. The exemption amount is compounded annually by an inflation factor. For example, for 2018, the basic exemption amount was $134,706.

  • Low-Income – The low-income exemption, also referred to as the $150,000 exemption, is available to qualifying claimants whose annual household income does not exceed a specified income limit. The amounts for both the low-income exemption and the annual income limit are compounded annually by an inflation factor. For example, for 2018, the low-income exemption amount was $202,060 and the annual household income limit was $60,490.

Who is eligible for the California Disabled Veteran Property Tax Exemptions? In general, in order to qualify for the Disabled Veterans' Exemption:

  • The Veteran must meet the definition of a disabled Veteran, as described below, for the purposes of the exemption.

  • The claimant for the exemption may be the disabled Veteran or the unmarried Surviving Spouse of the Veteran.

  • The property on which the exemption is claimed must be the claimant's principal place of residence.

  • The Veteran's character of discharge from military service must have been under "other than dishonorable" conditions.

  • The Veteran must have served during one of the time periods listed in The following wars or campaigns:

    • War with Germany-Austria, April 6, 1917 - November 11, 1918

    • World War II, December 7, 1941 - January 1, 1947

    • Campaign against the North Koreans and Chinese Communists in Korea, June 27, 1950 - January 31, 1955

    • Campaign against the Viet Cong and North Vietnamese Communists in South Vietnam, August 5, 1964 - May 8, 1975

    • First Nicaraguan campaign, July 29, 1912 - November 14, 1912

    • Second Nicaraguan campaign, August 27, 1926 - January 2, 1933

    • Yangtze River campaign in China, September 3, 1926 - October 21, 1927 or March 1, 1930 - December 31, 1932

    • All other campaigns for service in which a medal has been issued to the Veteran by the Congress of the United States

Note: Definitions of “Disabled Veteran”, Surviving Spouse”, and “Principal Place of Residence” can be found under the “Qualifications Tab” located here at the California State Board of Equalization, Disabled Veterans’ Exemption webpage.

Learn more about the California Disabled Veteran Property Tax Exemptions

California Business License, Tax and Fee Waiver for Veterans: The Business License, Tax, and Fee Waiver benefit waives municipal, county, and state business license fees, taxes, and fees for Veterans who hawk, peddle, or vend any goods, wares, or merchandise owned by the Veteran, except spirituous, malt, vinous, or other intoxicating liquor, including sales from a fixed location.
Who is eligible for the California Business License, Tax and Fee Waive r for Veterans? Honorably discharged Veterans who engage in sales (not services) activities may be eligible. Eligibility criteria will differ based upon local jurisdiction. If your county/city licensing authority offers this benefit and they establish eligibility for your specific business, submit proof of honorable discharge to the authority.

Learn more about the California Business License, Tax and Fee Waiver for Veterans

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What are my California Military and Veterans Education Benefits?

California College Tuition Fee Waivers for Veterans' Dependents: The California College Fee Waiver for Veteran Dependents benefit waives of mandatory system wide tuition and fees at any State of California Community College, California State University or University of California campus. This program does not cover the expense of books, parking or room and board. There are four plans under which dependents of Veterans may be eligible.
Who is eligible for the California College Tuition Fee Waivers for Veterans' Dependents? There are four plans under which dependents of Veterans may be eligible:

Plan A:

  • The Child of a Veteran who is totally disabled due to service-connected disabilities or whose death was officially rated as service-connected is eligible. The Child must be over 14 years old and under 27 years old to be eligible. If the Child is a Veteran, then the age limit is extended to age 30;

  • The Spouse or Registered Domestic Partner (RDP) of a wartime Veteran who has been rated as service-connected totally disabled is eligible. There are no age limit restrictions;

  • The unmarried Surviving Spouse or RDP of a wartime Veteran whose death has been rated as service-connected is eligible. There are no age limit restrictions;

  • Any dependent of any Veteran who has been declared missing in action, captured in the line of duty by hostile forces, or forcibly detained or interned in the line of duty by a foreign government or power is eligible.

The Veteran must have served at least one day of active duty during a period of war as declared by the U.S. Congress, or during any time in which the Veteran was awarded a campaign or expeditionary medal. Concurrent receipt of benefits under Plan A and VA Chapter 35 benefits is prohibited. To receive benefits under Plan A, a dependent must sign an "election" statement acknowledging this fact. There are no income restrictions under this plan. To be eligible, the event which caused basic entitlement to benefits (i.e., the date the Veteran died of service-connected causes or the date the VA rated the Veteran as totally disabled as a result of service-connected disabilities) must have occurred prior to the Child's 21st birthday.

Plan B: The Child of a Veteran who has a service-connected disability or had a service-connected disability at the time of death or died of service-related causes is eligible. The Child's annual income, which includes the Child's adjusted gross income, plus the value of support provided by a parent, may not exceed the annual income limit. The current academic year entitlement is based upon the previous calendar year's annual income. Under Plan B, wartime service is not required and there are no specific age requirements. Children are the only dependents eligible under this plan. There is no prohibition against receiving concurrent VA Chapter 35 benefits.

Plan C: Any dependent of any member of the California National Guard, who in the line of duty while on active service to the state, was killed, died of a disability resulting from an event that occurred while in active service to the state, or is permanently disabled as a result of an event that occurred while in the service to the state is eligible. Surviving Spouses or RDPs who have not remarried are also eligible.

"Active service to the state," for the purpose of this benefit, means a member of the California National Guard activated pursuant to Section 146 of the Military and Veterans Code. A copy of those orders pursuant to Section 146, not Section 143, must be furnished to establish eligibility.

Plan D: Medal of Honor recipients and Children of Medal of Honor recipients under the age of 27 may qualify. Benefits under Plan D are limited to undergraduate studies only, and applicants are subject to both income and age restrictions. There is no prohibition against receiving concurrent VA Chapter 35 benefits.

Note: All applicants must meet California residency requirements.

Please use the California Department of Veterans Affairs, College Fee Waiver Calculator to verify eligibility.

To apply download an application, then go to your local County Veterans Service Office. For more information, you can also contact the admissions office or the Veterans Affairs office of any California college system campus.
California Department of Veterans Affairs, College Fee Waiver Program for Veteran Dependents Application
California Department of Veterans Affairs, County Veterans Service Officer Directory

Learn more about the California College Tuition Fee Waivers for Veterans' Dependents

California Non-Resident College Fee Waiver: The Non-Resident College Fee Waiver waives non-resident fees at all State of California Community Colleges, California State University, or University of California campuses.
Who is eligible for the California Non-Resident College Fee Waiver?

  • A student who is a Veteran of the U.S. Armed Forces stationed in this state on active duty for more than one year immediately prior to being discharged is entitled to resident classification. This classification is valid for the length of time the Veteran lives in this state after being discharged up to the minimum time necessary to become a resident.

  • An undergraduate student who is a member of the U.S. Armed Forces stationed in this state on active duty is eligible, except a member of the Armed Forces assigned for educational purposes to a state-supported institution of higher education.

  • An undergraduate student who is a natural or adopted Child, Stepchild, or Spouse who is a dependent of a member of the Armed Forces stationed in this state on active duty is eligible.

  • 3 people in cap and gowns at a graduation ceremony A student seeking a graduate degree, who is a member of the U.S. Armed Forces stationed in this state on active duty except a member of the Armed Forces assigned for educational purposes to a state-supported institution of higher education, is eligible. There is a two-year limit for graduate-level studies.

  • A student seeking a graduate degree who is a natural or adopted Child, Stepchild, or Spouse who is a dependent of a member of the U.S. Armed Forces stationed in this state on active duty is eligible. There is a one-year limit for graduate level studies.

To apply, contact the Admissions Office of any State of California Community College, California State University, or University of California campus.

Learn more about the California Non-Resident College Fee Waiver

California Military Department GI Bill Award Program (CMD GI BILL): The California Military Department GI Bill Award Program (CMD GI Bill), formerly known as the California National Guard Education Assistance Award Program (CNG EAAP). The CMD GI Bill issues educational awards to qualifying members of the California Army or Air National Guard, California State Guard, and the California Naval Militia. This State Grant can pay for up to 100% of the tuition and fees at a University of California, California State University, or a California Community College. It can also be used for eligible California proprietary and private institutions.
Who is eligible for the California Military Department GI Bill Award Program (CMD GI BILL)? All applicants must:

  • Agree to remain an active member in the CMD throughout the participation period in the Program

  • Agree to attend a qualifying institution as defined by section 69432.7(l) of the California Education Code and with an active Institutional Participation Agreement with the California Student Aid Commission,

  • Agree to maintain enrollment in at least three (3) academic units per term,

  • Agree to maintain at least a 2.0 cumulative grade point average (GPA) annually,

  • Maintain California residency as determined by the institution (based on resident and non-resident tuition),

  • Agree to not receive a Cal Grant award check for the same academic year; and

  • Agree to use the award to obtain a certificate, degree, or diploma that is currently not held; Participants who enter the program during or after the 2020-2021 academic year must:

  • Agree to serve two years in the California National Guard, the California State Guard, or the California Naval Militia upon completion of the last academic period of utilizing this program,

  • Agree to complete course of study within 10 years of initial acceptance into the program; and

  • Agree to only obtain one degree (baccalaureate, graduate, or doctoral) while participating in the program.

During the change over from the California National Guard Education Assistance Award Program (CNG EAAP) to the California Military Department GI Bill Award Program (CMD GI Bill) there are different application steps during the transition.

2019-2020 Academic Year (AY) Application Process: Complete the application process below to apply for the 2019-20 AY (which goes from July 1, 2019 to June 30, 2020) if you did not participate in the CNG EAAP for the 2018-19 AY or were withdrawn from the 2018-19 AY.

2020-2021 Academic Year Application Process: Complete the application process below to apply for the 2020-21 AY (which goes from July 1, 2020 to June 30, 2021) if you did not participate in the CNG EAAP for the 2019-20 AY or were withdrawn from the 2019-20 AY.

Applications are not transferable from one academic year to another.

California Military Department GI Bill Award Program (CMD GI BILL) Applicants Fact Sheet
California Military Department GI Bill Award Program (CMD GI BILL) Frequently Asked Questions

Learn more about the California Military Department GI Bill Award Program (CMD GI BILL)

California Interstate Compact on Educational Opportunity for Military Children: It is the purpose of this compact to remove barriers to educational success imposed on Children of military Families because of frequent moves and deployment of their parents by:

  • Children sitting on the steps of a school Facilitating the timely enrollment of Children of military Families and ensuring that they are not placed at a disadvantage due to difficulty in the transfer of educational records from the previous school district or variations in entrance or age requirements.

  • Facilitating the student placement process through which Children of military Families are not disadvantaged by variations in attendance requirements, scheduling, sequencing, grading, course content or assessment.

  • Facilitating the qualification and eligibility for enrollment, educational programs, and participation in extracurricular academic, athletic and social activities.

  • Facilitating the on-time graduation of Children of military Families.

  • Providing for the promulgation and enforcement of administrative rules implementing the provisions of this compact.

  • Providing for the uniform collection and sharing of information between and among member states, schools and military Families under this compact.

  • Promoting coordination between this compact and other compacts affecting military Children.

  • Promoting flexibility and cooperation between the educational system, parents and the student in order to achieve educational success for the student.

Primary Point of Contact:
Jacie Ragland
Education Programs Consultant
California Department of Education
Address: 1430 N Street, Suite 4202
Sacramento, CA 95814
Email: jragland@cde.ca.gov
Phone: 916-323-2568

Learn more about California Interstate Compact on Educational Opportunity for Military Children

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What are my California Military and Veterans Employment Benefits?