1. #1
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    Default "Supporting Emergency Responders Volunteer Efforts" Act

    Although I found an old post from 2005 about a similar piece of legislation, I thought it worth noting that the "Supporting Emergency Responders Volunteer Efforts" (SERVE Act) was reintroduced in Congress this year as HR2448 and S932.

    This would provide a $1,000 tax credit for volunteer firefighters. Right now it doesn't appear that any co-sponsors are on the Senate bill and there are only 10 for the House version which is a very, very bad sign and it has been sitting in committee with no action since introduction (introduced in the Senate in May and the House in July).

    Here is the text:

    S. 932

    To amend the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 to allow a $1,000 refundable credit for individuals who are bona fide volunteer members of volunteer firefighting and emergency medical service organizations.

    IN THE SENATE OF THE UNITED STATES

    May 10, 2011

    Mr. SCHUMER introduced the following bill; which was read twice and referred to the Committee on Finance

    A BILL

    To amend the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 to allow a $1,000 refundable credit for individuals who are bona fide volunteer members of volunteer firefighting and emergency medical service organizations.

    Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled,

    SECTION 1. SHORT TITLE.

    This Act may be cited as the `Supporting Emergency Responders Volunteer Efforts Act of 2011' or the `SERVE Act of 2011'.

    SEC. 2. REFUNDABLE CREDIT FOR BONA FIDE VOLUNTEER MEMBERS OF VOLUNTEER FIREFIGHTING AND EMERGENCY MEDICAL SERVICE ORGANIZATIONS.

    (a) In General- Subpart C of part IV of subchapter A of chapter 1 of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 is amended by inserting after section 36C the following new section:

    `SEC. 36D. BONA FIDE VOLUNTEER MEMBERS OF VOLUNTEER FIREFIGHTING AND EMERGENCY MEDICAL SERVICE ORGANIZATIONS.

    `(a) In General- In the case of an individual who at any time during the taxable year is a bona fide volunteer member of a qualified volunteer fire department, there shall be allowed as a credit against the tax imposed by this subtitle the amount of $1,000.

    `(b) Definitions- For purposes of this section--

    `(1) BONA FIDE VOLUNTEER MEMBER OF A QUALIFIED VOLUNTEER FIRE DEPARTMENT-

    `(A) IN GENERAL- An individual shall be treated as a bona fide volunteer of a qualified volunteer fire department for purposes of this section if--

    `(i) such individual was a member of a qualified volunteer fire department for not less than 6 months during the taxable year,

    `(ii) such individual met all applicable training and certification requirements of the qualified volunteer fire department during all periods in which such individual was a member of the such department,

    `(iii) the only compensation received by such individual for performing qualified services is in the form of--

    `(I) reimbursement for (or a reasonable allowance for) reasonable expenses incurred in the performance of such services, or

    `(II) reasonable benefits (including length of service awards), and nominal fees for such services, customarily paid by eligible employers in connection with the performance of such services by volunteers, and

    `(iv) the aggregate amount of such compensation for the taxable year for providing qualified services does not exceed an amount equal to the annual limitation.

    `(B) ANNUAL LIMITATION- For purposes of subparagraph (A), the annual limitation is an amount equal to the product of--

    `(i) the minimum wage in effect under section 6(a)(1) of the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938 (29 U.S.C. 206(a)(1)) on the first day of the calendar year beginning in the taxable year, multiplied by

    `(ii) 2,080 hours.

    `(2) QUALIFIED SERVICES- For purposes of this paragraph, the term `qualified services' means fire fighting and prevention services, emergency medical services, and ambulance services.

    `(3) QUALIFIED VOLUNTEER FIRE DEPARTMENT- The term `qualified volunteer fire department' has the meaning given such term by section 150(e).'.

    (b) Conforming Amendments-

    (1) Paragraph (2) of section 1324(b) of title 31, United States Code, is amended by inserting `36D,' after `36C,'.

    (2) The table of sections for subpart C of part IV of subchapter A of chapter 1 of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 is amended by inserting after the item relating to section 36C the following new item:

    `Sec. 36D. Bona fide volunteer members of volunteer firefighting and emergency medical service organizations.'.

    (c) Effective Date- The amendments made by this section shall apply to taxable years beginning after the date of the enactment of this Act.

  2. #2
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    Post Well.........

    A good piece of Legislation, but poor timing........ I'm of the opinion that this is a good, albiet a token, thing to do to show support for Volunteer Fire/Rescue folks. At this time, there are a number of factors that would have to be addressed to get this moving a bit. First, as you correctly pointed out, there is a real shortage of co-sponsors in both chambers. This could be addressed best by having people from various States each contacting their Senators and Congressmen. I can, and will, contact Sens. Mikulski and Cardin from Maryland regarding this. On the House side, I'd have to see who is on board already before contacting anyone. Another point is that this is a "Tax Break" that only helps a few people. With our Current economic situation, taking any action, no matter how well intended, to help a few while many others are looking for relief, is difficult at best. And there seems to be a total lack of support (as far as I know) from the Regional and National Fire/Rescue Organizations. For Volunteers, this would seem to be a no brainer for the NVFC, but as usual, they're asleep in a corner somewhere.........
    Never use Force! Get a Bigger Hammer.
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    We cannot afford it.

    Take my portion and apply it to the mountains and mountains of debt we've accumulated in this country.
    I am now a past chief and the views, opinions, and comments are mine and mine alone. I do not speak for any department or in any official capacity. Although, they would be smart to listen to me.

    "The last thing I want to do is hurt you. But it's still on the list."

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    The National Volunteer Fire Council mentions it on their web page, but I didn't go hunting around to see what, if any, lobbying efforts they have undertaken. The fact that people have been pushing it for at least 6 years with no success isn't a good sign either.

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    I'm with Chief KN. I'm glad someone thought enough of us to introduce it but now is not the time to give anyone an arbitrary tax break.

    Perhaps a few years down the road when (Hopefully) we've seen a change in fiscal policy and our debt is heading down instead of up might be a good time for this but right now we just need to cut spending and keep taxes where they are.

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    Quote Originally Posted by EGregory View Post
    I'm with Chief KN. I'm glad someone thought enough of us to introduce it but now is not the time to give anyone an arbitrary tax break.

    Perhaps a few years down the road when (Hopefully) we've seen a change in fiscal policy and our debt is heading down instead of up might be a good time for this but right now we just need to cut spending and keep taxes where they are.
    What he said. As much as I'd like the moolah, I oppose anything like this right now. Wipe out the deficit and work on the debt, and then we'll talk.

    Of course, there would be so much other stuff like it by then that we'd start right back down the Chinese IOU trail again.
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    Quote Originally Posted by hwoods View Post
    A good piece of Legislation, but poor timing........ I'm of the opinion that this is a good, albiet a token, thing to do to show support for Volunteer Fire/Rescue folks. At this time, there are a number of factors that would have to be addressed to get this moving a bit. First, as you correctly pointed out, there is a real shortage of co-sponsors in both chambers. This could be addressed best by having people from various States each contacting their Senators and Congressmen. I can, and will, contact Sens. Mikulski and Cardin from Maryland regarding this. On the House side, I'd have to see who is on board already before contacting anyone. Another point is that this is a "Tax Break" that only helps a few people. With our Current economic situation, taking any action, no matter how well intended, to help a few while many others are looking for relief, is difficult at best. And there seems to be a total lack of support (as far as I know) from the Regional and National Fire/Rescue Organizations. For Volunteers, this would seem to be a no brainer for the NVFC, but as usual, they're asleep in a corner somewhere.........
    Good post Harve.

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    Quote Originally Posted by ChiefKN View Post
    We cannot afford it.

    Take my portion and apply it to the mountains and mountains of debt we've accumulated in this country.
    I agree.


    We as a country are over loaded.
    Bring enough hose.

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    I would rather pay more taxes and be regulated less. It is the goverment incroachment which is the real killer of business with needless rules and regulations.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Miller337 View Post
    I would rather pay more taxes and be regulated less. It is the goverment incroachment which is the real killer of business with needless rules and regulations.
    Why do we have to choose?
    I am now a past chief and the views, opinions, and comments are mine and mine alone. I do not speak for any department or in any official capacity. Although, they would be smart to listen to me.

    "The last thing I want to do is hurt you. But it's still on the list."

    "When tempted to fight fire with fire, remember that the Fire Department usually uses water."

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    Quote Originally Posted by ChiefKN View Post
    Why do we have to choose?
    We shouldn't, but that is our system. The goverment will get their money one way or another. Alot of the rules I encounter are not really designed to make the enviroment cleaner or the worker safer. They are structured so that regardless of how hard a business tries to be compliant, there will always be something which the inspector finds which is a violation and the business is fined.

    So in short after spending nearly forty cents of every dollar earned to be compliant the business pays again. It would be cheaper to just pay more ,they are really only after the money anyhow. Just brings a smile to your face doesn't.

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    Considering that recruiting and maintaing volunteer firefighters is a critical issue across the country, I think this sort of expenditure would be just as valid as the feds buying equipment for local fire departments through various other existing grant programs.

    However, I'm not convinced that a tax credit is really the best way for the feds to spend their money in this area. But, since that is the option under discussion....

    As written, I think the legislation would make it too easy for people to game the system by just getting on the FDs rolls and not actually doing anything useful. A FD could choose to keep a 95 year old guy on and he would still get the tax credit even though he hadn't fought fire for 50 years. You just can't leave it entirely up to each Dept on who they say are volunteer firefighters.

    I think it would be better to only allow the tax credit for volunteer firefighters who have at least met the Firefighter 1 standards. This would probably reduce the overall cost of the program while at the same time giving a huge incentive for volunteers to take some real training. So, a real win-win.

    There should probably be some sort of minimum requirement for training hours as well. Sure, that could be pencil-whipped by the Department, but only at the risk of federal prison if caught falsifying such paperwork.

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