Arkansas extends exclusive advantages to Service members, Veterans, and their families, encompassing property tax relief, prioritized state employment opportunities, educational and tuition support, specialized vehicle tags, and enhanced hunting and fishing license privileges. The eligibility for certain benefits may be contingent on factors such as residency, military affiliation, and Veteran disability status. The following outlines the various benefits available in the state of Arkansas.
Arkansas Veteran Financial Benefits
- Military Pay Exempt from Arkansas State Taxes: Military pay earned by Service members in the active or reserve segments of the U.S. Armed Forces is not subject to Arkansas income tax.
- Arkansas Military Spouses Residency Relief Act: When the Service member’s designated home of record is outside of Arkansas, and both the Service member and their nonresident military Spouse share the same home of record, the Spouse’s income is not subject to Arkansas income tax.
- Arkansas Military Family Tax Relief Act of 2003 (Act 372 of 2009):The Arkansas Military Family Relief Act provides the following exemptions:
- Service members may exclude profits from the sale of their principal residence from Arkansas income tax
- National Guard and U.S. Armed Forces Reserve Service members may exclude overnight travel expenses required for military duty
- Additional pay and allowances paid to Service members are exempt from Arkansas income tax
- Arkansas Homestead and Personal Property Tax Exemption: Disabled Eligible Disabled Veterans are exempt from all state taxes on their homestead and personal property.
- Resident Veterans holding a 100% permanent and total disability rating from the VA due to service-connected reasons, or those receiving Special Monthly Compensation for limb loss, or total blindness in one or both eyes, are granted full exemption from all state taxes on their homestead or personal property.
- Unremarried Surviving Spouses and their dependent Children are eligible for this exemption if the Veteran was killed or died while in U.S. Armed Forces service, is declared missing in action, or passed away from service-connected causes. A remarried Surviving Spouse can reinstate this exemption if their subsequent marriage ends. Those benefiting from this exemption are required to recertify their eligibility annually. Veterans eligible for this exemption are those who receive VA funds to acquire or adapt a specially designed vehicle to accommodate a service-connected injury or disability. A requisite for eligibility is the provision of an entitlement letter from the VA.
- Arkansas Gross Receipts or Gross Proceeds Tax Exemption: Disabled Veterans who meet the eligibility criteria are exempt from taxes on specially adapted vehicles or equipment purchased with VA assistance.
- Military Retirement Pay is Exempt from all Arkansas State Taxes: Military retirement pay is not subject to Arkansas income taxes. The Thrift Savings Plan (TSP) does not withhold state or local income taxes, but is reported on IRS Form 1099-R annually. All TSP distributions are liable to state taxes, and early distributions may result in increased tax obligations.
- Arkansas State Taxes on Military Disability Retirement Pay: Pension, annuity, or similar allowances received as Military Disability Retirement Pay for personal injury or illness resulting from active service in the U.S. Armed Forces should not be incorporated into taxable income. Some examples of payments categorized as disability benefits are:
- Disability compensation and pension payments for disabilities paid to Veterans or their families
- Grants for homes designed for wheelchair living
- Grants for motor vehicles for Veterans who lost their sight or the use of limbs, or
- Benefits under a dependent-care assistance program
- Veterans Affairs Disability Dependency and Indemnity Compensation: DIC (Dependency and Indemnity Compensation) is a tax-free financial benefit provided to qualified survivors of military Service members who died while on active duty or eligible survivors of Veterans whose passing was a consequence of a service-connected injury or illness.
- Statewide: 6.5%
- Counties: can levy a sales tax of no more than 6.125%
- Current average sales tax (with local taxes included): 9.46%
Arkansas Disabled Veterans Hunting and Fishing Benefits: Arkansas Game and Fish Commission extends a range of hunting and fishing privileges to Disabled Veterans. To obtain these licenses, Disabled Veterans must provide proof of a minimum one-year Arkansas residency, furnish VA documentation of their disability, and submit their applications by mail to the Little Rock Office of the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission.
Arkansas Resident Disabled Veteran Lifetime Fishing License ($1.50):This lifetime license grants 100% permanently disabled resident Veterans the authority to fish in all Arkansas state waters. In specific areas designated for trout fishing, a Resident Trout Permit must be acquired separately.
Arkansas Resident Disabled Veteran Lifetime Hunting License ($1.50):
This lifetime license empowers 100% permanently disabled resident Veterans to engage in hunting for all game species during their respective open seasons, with the liberty to harvest the complete deer bag limit. Additionally, it grants Veterans the privilege to hunt furbearers. The license also includes six deer tags and two turkey tags.
Arkansas Resident Disabled Veteran Lifetime Combination License ($3):This license provides 100% permanently disabled resident Veterans with the same advantages found in both the Arkansas Resident Disabled Veteran Lifetime Hunting License and the Arkansas Resident Disabled Veteran Lifetime Fishing License.
Resident Partially Disabled Military Veteran Lifetime Combination License ($52.50): This license grants resident disabled Veterans with a service-connected disability rating of 70% or higher, or those with a service-connected disability rating of 50% or higher who have been awarded the Purple Heart, the privilege to engage in hunting and fishing activities in Arkansas. Additionally, this license includes both the Arkansas trout and duck stamps.
Arkansas Retired Service Member Hunting and Fishing Benefits: The Arkansas Game and Fish Commission extends various hunting and fishing benefits to resident Service members who have retired. To be eligible for these benefits, retired Service members should be aged 60 or older and provide evidence of their military retirement. In addition, all retired Service member licenses necessitate proof of at least one year of Arkansas residency.
Arkansas Resident Military Retiree Lifetime Fishing License ($10.50):This lifetime license allows retired resident Service members to fish in Arkansas. To fish for trout in certain areas, a Resident Trout Permit must be acquired separately.
Arkansas Resident Military Retiree Lifetime Hunting License ($25):This lifetime license grants retired resident Service members the authority to hunt all game species during open seasons, with the option to reach the total deer bag limit. It also permits retired Service members to engage in furbearer hunting and includes six deer tags and two turkey tags.
Arkansas Resident Military Retiree Lifetime Combination License ($35.50): This lifetime license offers identical privileges as those found in both the Arkansas Resident Military Retiree Lifetime Hunting License and the Arkansas Resident Military Retiree Lifetime Fishing License.
Arkansas Hunting and Fishing Benefits for Active Duty Service Members: Nonresident active duty Service members stationed in Arkansas have the option to acquire annual or trip hunting and fishing licenses at resident prices. Moreover, active duty Service members who originated from Arkansas and enlisted in the U.S. Armed Forces can also obtain annual or trip hunting and fishing licenses at resident prices, regardless of their current duty station.
Arkansas State Parks: Veterans with a 100% permanent disability rating can be eligible for a discount at many Arkansas State Parks. To qualify for the discount, you can provide one of the following:
- A copy of the Awards letter (dated within the last two years) from the Veteran’s Administration Regional Office.
- An Arkansas license plate beginning with the letters “DV” or “DAV”, indicates that a veteran is 100% disabled.
- America the Beautiful-Access Pass or Golden Access Passport
Discounted Camping for Disabled Veterans at Arkansas State Parks: The Arkansas State Parks Department provides year-round camping at half price in Arkansas State Parks for resident Veterans with a 100% permanent disability rating from the VA due to service-connected reasons. To qualify, Veterans must furnish proof of their 100% permanent disability rating from the VA, which can be a disability award letter dated within the last two years or evidence of an Arkansas Disabled Veteran License plate.
Arkansas National Guard Tuition Waiver Program (NGTW): The Arkansas National Guard Tuition Waiver (NGTW) exempts Arkansas National Guard Service members from up to 120 credit hours or until they achieve a bachelor’s degree, whichever comes first when attending a state-supported public institution of higher education. The NGTW is initially applied to tuition, allowing Service members to utilize their military education benefits to address any additional expenses.
While the NGTW can be applied to mandatory fees, it does not cover other costs such as books and related fees.
All current National Guard Service members that meet the following criteria are eligible for NGTW:
- Arkansas Resident
- Completed initial active duty training
- Does not already have a bachelor’s or higher degree
- Enrolled in an undergraduate degree program at an Arkansas public institution of higher education
- Not flagged for serious misconduct (such as AWOL, ASAP, etc.)
- Must make satisfactory academic progress, as determined by the educational institution to remain eligible
Arkansas Military Dependents Scholarship Program (MDS): The MDS (Military Dependent Scholarship) program offers a tuition waiver for eligible Spouses and dependent Children of specific Service members and Veterans. This waiver is applicable for pursuing a bachelor’s degree or a certificate of completion at an Arkansas public institution of higher education. MDS covers the expenses of tuition, mandatory fees, and room and board that remain after the student applies for federal Survivors’ and Dependents’ Education Assistance (DEA).
It’s important to note that the MDS program does not cover expenses related to books, auto permits, damages or dorm room accessories, or utility bills. The institution is reimbursed for the approved charges after confirming the student’s full-time enrollment (12 or more credit hours) each semester. Eligibility is limited to eight semesters or until the degree is completed, whichever comes first.
Arkansas Diplomas for Wartime Veterans: Local school districts have the authority to confer high school diplomas upon World War II, Korean War, or Vietnam War Veterans who had left high school to serve in the U.S. Armed Forces before graduation. Individuals interested in this opportunity are encouraged to reach out to their local school district or contact the Arkansas Department of Education at 501-682-4475 for additional information.
Arkansas In-State Tuition for Veterans, Service Members, and Dependents: Arkansas public institutions of higher education will provide residency for tuition purposes to eligible nonresident Veterans, Service members, and their dependents.
Who is eligible for Arkansas In-State Tuition for Veterans, Service Members and Dependents? Those eligible for residency are:
- Veterans who received an honorable discharge after 90 days or more of active duty service in the U.S. Armed Forces within three years prior to enrollment
- Child or Spouse of an eligible Veteran
- Service member serving in the U.S. Armed Forces
- Child or Spouse of a Service member serving in the U.S. Armed Forces
- Contracted Reserve Officers’ Training Corps cadet
Arkansas Interstate Compact on Educational Opportunity for Military Children (MIC3): 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:
- Facilitating the prompt 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 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 to achieve educational success for the student
Housing: The following are the sites for Veterans Homes
Eligibility for admission:
- Veterans must have served in the Armed Forces (deployment necessary)
- Veterans must have an honorable discharge
- Have no criminal record(s)
- Arkansas residents have first priority
- Spouses or un-remarried surviving spouse (including Gold Star Parents) are also eligible provided they meet the age and residency requirements
- Have a medical need for nursing home placement
Employment and Job Training: Veteran’s Preference
Arkansas State Employee Leave for Military Duty: Arkansas state employees who serve as members of a reserve component in the U.S. Armed Forces are entitled to 15 days of paid military leave annually for training and official military duties, which includes travel time to and from their duty location.
In cases where employees are called to active duty during emergency situations by the Governor or the President, they are granted 30 working days of paid leave. After this period, leave without pay is provided. Importantly, during military leave, employees retain their seniority rights, efficiency and performance ratings, promotional status, retirement privileges, life and disability insurance benefits, as well as all other rights, privileges, and benefits to which they are entitled.
Who is eligible for Arkansas State Employee Leave for Military Duty: National Guard and U.S. Armed Forces Reserve Service members who are Arkansas state employees are eligible for leave for military duty.
Arkansas State Employment Veterans Hiring Preference: Arkansas provides Veterans with preference in state employment, whether it be during the hiring process, promotions, or retention.
In cases where examinations are used as part of the hiring process, eligible Veteran applicants receive additional points added to their passing scores. Furthermore, if a Veteran applicant eligible for preference is not chosen, they have the option to request from the hiring authority their base score, adjusted score, and the score of the selected candidate.
5 Points are added to the passing scores of:
- Surviving Spouse of a deceased Veteran
- National Guard and U.S. Armed Forces Reserve Service members
- Surviving Spouse of a deceased National Guard or U.S. Armed Forces Reserve Service member
10 points are added to the passing scores of:
- Disabled Veterans
- Spouses of a disabled Veterans who cannot take the position due to their disability
If hiring decisions are not based on examination scores, it is mandatory for the hiring authority to provide a clear demonstration of how Veterans’ hiring preference was incorporated. In cases where an eligible Veteran applicant is not selected, that applicant has the option to request all documentation that outlines the application of Veterans’ preference in shaping the interview list and the procedures used for selecting the successful candidate.
Who is eligible for Arkansas State Veterans Hiring Preference? The following individuals are eligible for preference:
- Veterans who were honorably discharged from active duty service in the U.S. Armed Forces, (active duty for training does not qualify)
- Surviving Spouse of an eligible Veteran
- National Guard or U.S. Armed Forces Reserve Service members with at least six years’ time in service
- Surviving Spouse of an eligible National Guard or U.S. Armed Forces Reserve Service member
- Disabled Veterans over age 55 who are entitled to a pension or compensation from the VA, or the Spouse of a disabled Veteran who cannot take the position due to their disability
Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act: USERRA safeguards the job rights and benefits of Veterans and reserve component members in their civilian employment. It strengthens the protection of Service member rights and benefits through the clarification of existing laws, enhancement of enforcement mechanisms, and an expansion of the eligibility of Federal Government employees to access Department of Labor assistance in pursuing their claims.
Absence from Work for Military Duty: USERRA defines the allowable duration for military duty-related absences while retaining reemployment rights, which extends up to a cumulative five-year period. Exceptions to this five-year limit include extended initial enlistments exceeding five years, recurrent National Guard and U.S. Armed Forces Reserve training commitments, as well as involuntary active duty extensions and recalls, particularly during times of national emergency. USERRA firmly underscores that the protection of reemployment rights does not hinge on the timing, frequency, duration, or nature of an individual’s military service, as long as they meet the fundamental eligibility criteria.
Burials and Memorials
The National Cemetery Administration (NCA) pays tribute to eligible Veterans and their family members by providing a final resting place and a lasting memorial to commemorate the Veteran’s dedicated service to the nation.
The burial benefits encompass a gravesite in any of our open cemeteries with available space, the opening and closing of the grave, perpetual care, a government-furnished headstone or marker, a burial flag, and a Presidential Memorial Certificate, all at no cost to the family. Some Veterans may also meet the criteria for a burial allowance. Cremated remains are interred or inurned in national cemeteries with the same honors and respect as casketed remains.
Burial benefits extend to eligible spouses and dependents, including burial alongside the Veteran and perpetual care of the interment site. The name and relevant dates of birth and death of the spouse or dependent are inscribed on the Veteran’s headstone at no expense to the family. Importantly, spouses and qualified dependents are eligible for burial even if they pass away before the Veteran and are not required to be interred in the same national cemetery as the Veteran.
National Cemeteries include:
Fayetteville: Fayetteville National Cemetery
Fort Smith: Fort Smith National Cemetery
Little Rock: Little Rock National Cemetery
Arkansas VA Benefit Resources
Arkansas provides Veterans with a Regional Benefits Office and VA Medical Centers.
Arkansas VA Regional Benefit Offices
- North Little Rock: North Little Rock Regional Benefit Office
Arkansas VA Medical Centers
- Fayetteville: Veterans Health Care System of the Ozarks
- Little Rock: Central Arkansas Veterans Healthcare System John L. McClellan Memorial Veterans Hospital
- North Little Rock: Central Arkansas Veterans Healthcare System Eugene J. Towbin Healthcare Center
Important information for Arkansas Veteran Benefits: For Veterans seeking VA benefits for the first time, it is necessary to provide a copy of your DD 214 (discharge document). This document contains critical information such as your discharge status, full name, social security number, branch of service, and service dates. Honorable and general discharges generally qualify Veterans for most VA benefits.
It is highly advisable to maintain and securely store your paperwork, including medical records, in a location accessible to you and your family. This location should be secure and safeguarded against potential damage or tampering, such as a safe.
Eligibility for most VA benefits hinges on your discharge from active military service under conditions other than dishonorable. Active service signifies full-time duty as a member of the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps, or Coast Guard, or as a commissioned officer of the Public Health Service, the Environmental Services Administration, or the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
It’s important to note that Veterans discharged under “Dishonorable” conditions due to bad conduct discharges issued by general courts-martial may disqualify them from VA benefits. However, some Veterans in prison or on parole may still be eligible for specific VA benefits. VA regional offices are equipped to provide clarification regarding eligibility for prisoners, parolees, and individuals with multiple discharges issued under different conditions.
*This information is accurate as of October 2023
Arkansas Veteran Benefits
If you are a disabled Veteran in Arkansas and are VA rated 90% or less, you may be eligible for additional benefits. Contact Veterans Guardian for a free consultation with no obligation. Let us review your claim to determine if you are eligible for an increase in VA compensation and whether you qualify for additional benefits.