Benefits in my Backyard: Arizona

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By Connecting Vets

Just over half a million veterans call the Grand Canyon State home, and about half of them are over 65 years old. With more than 300 days of sunshine per year, a very affordable cost of living and  421 golf courses, you can see why so many pick Arizona to retire. That and the fact that there’s no gift, estate or inheritance tax in the state.

The state, the 48th to join the union, was a Valentine’s gift to the country. President Taft wanted Arizona to join on Feb. 12, but that’s already Lincoln’s birthday so it was pushed off for a day. Thirteen is an unlucky number so no one wanted to use that day so it was pushed back yet another day to Feb. 14. Does this mean Arizona residents never have to buy Valentine’s Day presents for anyone else?  I guess that all depends on who their sweetie is.

If you’re retiring to Arizona or just considering a move to the state, there are a few laws to be aware of first. You’ll face up to 25 years in prison if you cut down a saguaro cactus. It can take up to 100 years for one of these cacti to grow an arm.  If you don’t get jail time, you’ll at least be fined and face a class 4 felony.  And speaking of felonies, you’ll get hit with a class 6 felony if you’re caught trying to pass off a bag of oregano as weed in the state.  In El Mirage you’ll be fined at least $350 if you try to hide you clothesline.  In Tucson, women aren’t supposed to wear pants (but it's never enforced).  And one of the best laws anywhere can be found in Tombstone where it’s illegal for anyone over the age of 18 to have more than one of their teeth missing when they smile.  One wonders how many dentists there are in the state. (There are 2,943 dentists in Arizona, with 714 practicing specialists in case you won't sleep without knowing this.)


Arizona taxes military retirement pay. You can subtract up to $2,500 from your taxable income though. They are trying to change this for some Arizona veterans, 20 years active duty might end up giving you a $10k exemption, so make sure you check with local government. Active duty pay is not taxed.
  • Taxes in Arizona are a bit confusing. There are tax breaks for disabled veterans, widows and widowers of veterans. Check with your county assessor’s office for all the information.


  • Veterans with at least 36 months of active duty and dependents can be granted immediate residency and receive in-state tuition rates.To receive this you can vote in the state, get an AZ driver license, register a vehicle with the state, work in Arizona, transfer banking services to the state or change your permanent address to one in Arizona.
  • Arizona Purple Heart Tuition Waiver.  For post 9/11 Purple Heart recipients with a VA rated, service-connected disability of at least 50 percent or more, who are also state residents. Dependent spouses and children of state military who were killed in action who are up to 30 years old, and state National Guard members with a medical discharge or Purple Heart medal also qualify.  You can call a benefit counselor in Phoenix for help at (602) 234-8432.


  • Veterans receive preference points when testing for state jobs.
    • Veterans with an honorable discharge receive 5 points
    • Disabled veterans with a VA rated, service-connected disability receive 10 points
    • Some spouses or surviving spouses will receive 5 points.
  • Arizona Veteran Employment Roadmap:  This is a statewide effort that helps military/veterans and their family members find jobs.
  • Veteran Toolkit: helps veterans get supplies they need to start working. Find your local veteran employment representative here.



  • Fishing/Hunting licenses. Resident hunting and fishing licenses are available for active duty station in the state. Veterans who have a VA rated, service-connected 100 percent disability and those who are 70 years old or older and who have been an Arizona resident for at least 25 years may receive a complimentary license.
  • State park pass.  For VA rated, service-connected 100 percent disabled veterans. There is no charge for this pass


Cemetery and Burial

  • Veterans residing in the state are eligible to receive certain end of life benefits.You can find information on Military Funeral Honors and Interment Fees here.
  • Eligibility Determination Form.  Pre-needs determination is intended to simplify and assist the veteran’s next-of-kin at the time of death.  This does not reserve a plot or niche at the cemetery.  There is no cost for this.

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