Earlier this year, I told the story of Adam and Brittany Boccher, who have decided to remain in Arkansas after Adam retires from the Air Force in mid-2019.
The deciding factor in their decision was Act 141, a new law that exempts military retirement benefits from state income tax. The law, which I proposed and which passed in the 91st General Assembly with wide bipartisan support, takes effect on Jan. 1.
The law accomplishes several things. By exempting their retirement benefits from state tax, we honor in a small way the sacrifice of our veterans, many of whom, like Adam, have deployed overseas. During his 18 years in the Air Force, Adam has served three tours in the Middle East.
The law is a benefit to the state, as well. By enticing military families to retire in Arkansas, we will keep their skills, their experience and their leadership.
The Bocchers’ decision to stay here is exactly what we hoped Act 141 would accomplish.
But if the Bocchers’ decision to stay isn’t enough evidence that the law is a good idea, I am happy to report that another retired military family has decided to move to Arkansas because of this new law.
Thanks to the tax cut, Brittany’s parents are moving to Arkadelphia from Texas in March. Her stepfather is a retired Marine who earns his income driving a truck.
Here is the benefit tally for Arkansas: One airman who will continue his career in law enforcement when he retires in 2019, and his spouse, who happens to be the reigning Armed Services Spouse of the Year, who owns a business called Mason Chix Apparel. But there will also be another family member who is a retired Marine who will contribute to the state as a truck driver, and his spouse, who will employ her experience in industrial sales. Brittany’s parents have also bought a house.
That’s a lot of talent, hard work and passion, and that’s just one family.
I think it is safe to say that I was correct when I predicted during the General Assembly that the income tax exemption would be a “significant boost” to Arkansas.
Brittany’s parents will be able to benefit from the income tax cut as soon as they move here. Adam and Brittany will have to wait 18 months. But Starting Jan. 1, the benefit to about 22,000 of our retired military residents is immediate, and so is the benefit to Arkansas.
To our veterans, retired or not, thank you for all that you have done for our country and our state. And to our retirees who are considering Arkansas as the place to stay, I say, welcome home. We are all better for your presence.