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Muskogee T.J. Maxx questions veteran on tax exemption card

Posted at 6:40 PM, Jan 10, 2020
and last updated 2020-01-10 20:56:43-05

MUSKOGEE, Okla. — A department store company is considering a policy change after an incident with a veteran.

Those who served and are disabled because of it, can be eligible for tax exemption in Oklahoma.

One vet and his wife felt his status was wrongly questioned.

James Smith served four years in the U.S. Navy. He was deployed to Vietnam.

Smith is now a Purple Heart recipient, among other awards.

He says, "I really felt like I was doing something a man should do, and I still cry. [I cry for] everybody that didn't get to come home."

Smith lost a lot of friends, even a bit of himself. His wife, Betty, explains how he earned his tax exemption card.

“He has been diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease that has dementia," Mrs. Smith said. "He has PTSD, he has type 2 diabetes -- all have been linked to... the VA has said those are all due to his exposure to Agent Orange in Vietnam."

They went shopping at the T.J. Maxx store in Muskogee, Wednesday. When they showed the clerk his card, Betty says, "It was mentioned that we might not be able to get the tax exempt status on a purchase. They went ahead and exempted the tax, yesterday, the sales tax, but they handed me a paper saying their policy had changed as of January first, 2020."

She adds, they were told they would have to start bringing a printed-out copy of the card for each purchase.

"If you're going to promise a select group like the disabled veterans a benefit, then we should expect everyone to honor that commitment," Mrs. Smith said.

When 2 Works for You called the Oklahoma Tax Commission about the incident, a representative there was just as surprised as the Smiths.

By law, if vendors choose not to accept the card, they could face a $500 fine.

For those who come across problems with vendors not accepting a tax exemption card, a form needs to be submitted to the commission.

As for the store, a T.J. Maxx representative sent 2 Works for You a statement.

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