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Why can’t this veteran get N.J.’s veteran tax break?

Q. I was honorably discharged from the New Jersey Army National Guard, but the state said I’m not eligible for the veteran’s exemption. Why?

— Served with pride

A. It may not seem like a fair answer, but the state sees your service differently.

As a member of the National Guard, you’re not actually on active duty,said Bernie Kiely, a certified financial planner and certified public accountant with Kiely Capital Management in Morristown.

He said the Army National Guard and the Air Force National Guard are state entities. The Navy and Marines do not have National Guard organizations. The Commanders in Chief of the state Guards are the governors of each state, and in times of crisis, the president can “nationalize” the guard, Kiely said.

But it’s still not considered active duty, he said. Members of the Guard keep their day jobs and they sleep in their own bed most nights.

The question most asked is why would someone join the National Guard?

“The simple answer is when you are a member of the Guard you are not subject to the draft,” Kiely said. “This was very important during the Vietnam war. If you did not want to be drafted, you looked for a deferment, moved to Canada or joined the Guard.”

The regular services and their Reserve arms are federal entities, Kiely said, noting their Commander-in-Chief is the president of the United States.

“If you join any of the four military's reserves, you go to boot camp. After boot camp, you serve on active duty for a period of time and then finish the rest of your time in the reserves,” he said. “When I was in the Navy reserves, I served two years on active duty and four years in the active reserves where you drilled on weekends and for a few weeks a year.”

Only those who served on active duty can take the veteran exemption.

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Karin Price Mueller writes the Bamboozled column for NJ Advance Media and is the founder of Follow NJMoneyHelp on Twitter @NJMoneyHelp. Find NJMoneyHelp on Facebook. Sign up for’s weekly e-newsletter.

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