GOLDEN, Colo. — United States Air Force Maj. Mike Kingry may well be the most decorated active duty service member from Colorado.
But the recipient of the Distinguished Flying Cross with valor, whose heroics flying behind enemy lines in Afghanistan ensured that five wounded American service members made it home, no longer calls Colorado his official home.
It’s simply too expensive.
“We just couldn’t afford to continue to maintain our Colorado residency,” Kingry said last month during a visit to see his parents, who live here in the shadow of Table Rock Mountain.
“The pride of being a Coloradan, and wanting to vote in Colorado elections — I wanted to maintain that. But it just got to a point where we were paying $200-300 a month in state taxes, which, with a growing family meant a lot.”
Colorado is now one of just a couple dozen states where active duty military still have to pay state income taxes.
State representative-elect Jon Keyser, an Air Force reservist and friend of Kingry’s, is looking to change that when he officially takes the oath of office next month.
Keyser, R-Morrison, plans to make his first piece of legislation the HOME Act, which stands for the Honoring Our Military Exemption.
“We have servicemembers from Colorado deployed to far-flung places all around the globe and having that sense of home is very important,” Keyser. “I want to make sure that Colorado remains the home of these veterans.”
Keyser’s proposal would allow active duty service members to avoid paying state income taxes, putting Colorado in line with roughly 30 other states.
The bill will come with a fiscal note attached, which could prompt concerns about the cost as next year’s budget fight takes shape.
To Keyser, whatever it costs the state is money well-spent.
“Really, it’s a pledge we make as Coloradans to say we value these service members,” Keyser said. “We value the commitment that they make and the sacrifices that they make.”