Tax Breaks for Volunteer Fire Fighters
HARRISBURG- Responding to a growing shortage of volunteer firefighters,
Senator Lisa Baker (R-20) and Senator Sean Wiley (D-49) have joined forces to
introduce a bill to give municipalities the power to waive their local earned
income tax for volunteer first responders.
at nonprofit emergency medical service (EMS) agencies would also be eligible to
receive the tax credit.
every local government in Pennsylvania had to convert to a paid firefighting
force, it would cost an estimated $6 billion,” Baker said. “Giving
firefighters a small break on their local taxes is a simple benefit that will
compensate them in some small measure for their priceless life-saving work.”
Wiley agreed, noting, "Erie County is home to over 30 volunteer
fire and EMS companies, organizations that give countless hours to ensure the
safety and well-being of our neighbors. I am proud to work with Senator Baker
on a piece of legislation that gives back to these brave men and women who give
so much without hesitation."
idea for the legislation was bolstered by a joint hearing on firefighter and
EMT retention and recruitment held last fall by the Senate Veterans Affairs and
Emergency Preparedness Committee, which Baker chaired for seven years, and the
Majority Policy Committee.
an earned income tax credit was among a menu of solutions offered by experts as
a good recruitment and retention tool.
the legislation, municipalities would have the power to set the amount of the
tax credit and the guidelines of the program, including specifying the number
of calls to which a volunteer must answer and the level of training they must
the tax credit program would not be mandatory, we hope every municipality will
see the virtue of keeping and attracting its volunteer firefighters. When those
first flames begin, we cannot afford to sound the alarm and have no one come,”
and Wiley said the bill is expected to be part of a larger package of
incentives to fill the rapidly declining ranks of our volunteer firefighters
and EMTs, which have dropped from 300,000 to 50,000 in 30 years. The
decrease is blamed largely on the prevalence of two-income families, an
over-emphasis on fire department fundraising, local leadership conflicts, and
the stagnant economy. Baker has formed a working group to advance other
strategies for a comprehensive First Responder Relief package.