Washington, D.C. – The NVFC has announced the introduction of legislation in both the U.S. House and Senate that would provide a $1,000 annual tax credit for active members of volunteer fire and EMS organizations. The Supporting Emergency Responders Volunteer Efforts (SERVE) Act was introduced by Rep. Maurice Hinchey (D-NY) in the House and Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) in the Senate.
“A $1,000 tax credit for volunteer firefighters and EMS personnel will serve as an important recruitment tool for local companies that often have a difficult time getting people to sign up for volunteer service,” Hinchey said. “By providing a $1,000 tax credit that will make paying the bills easier, we will help encourage more community members to become volunteer firefighters and EMS providers. This $1,000 tax credit will also serve as a small token of our enormous appreciation for the risks our local firefighters and EMS providers take each day to protect us and our families.”
“These volunteers have their own jobs and families, yet they take time out to keep us safe,” said Sen. Schumer. “What would happen if they couldn’t do the job anymore?”
Nearly 75 percent of America’s firefighters are volunteers. They respond to a wide array of emergencies including structure and wildland fires, medical calls, motor vehicle accidents, natural disasters and acts of terrorism. However, the recruitment and retention of volunteer fire and EMS personnel has become one of the major challenges facing the service. The ranks of the volunteers have decreased more than 10 percent in the last 20 years.
“By providing a small incentive to these brave men and women who risk their life for little or no compensation, the Federal government can help to reverse downward trend,” said NVFC Chairman Philip C. Stittleburg. “The cost of this tax incentive to the Federal government would be quite small compared to the estimated $37.2 billion annual cost savings provided by the volunteer emergency services.”
The bills, numbered H.R. 934 and S. 625 respectively, have been referred to the House Committee on Ways and Means and the Senate Committees on Finance.