1. #1
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    Default New bill supports tax exempt volunteer benefits

    FROM FIRERESCUE 1:
    http://www.firerescue1.com/volunteer/articles/287737/
    New bill supports tax exempt volunteer benefits
    By FireRescue1 Staff

    WASHINGTON A new bill introduced Wednesday may exempt volunteer first responder benefits from taxation.

    In 2002, the benefits took a hit when the IRS ruled that property tax abatements to volunteers should be treated as taxable income, significantly diminishing volunteers' financial incentives.

    The new bill is aimed at keeping volunteer benefits in the picture.

    Senators Chris Dodd (D-CT) and Gordon Smith (R-OR) sponsored the bipartisan effort for volunteer benefits, and a similar piece of legislation was introduced in the House of Representatives by Congressman John Larson (D-CT) in February.

    "The safety of many small towns depends on volunteers," said Senator Smith. "They're on the front lines whether it's a house fire or a natural disaster. They do their jobs because they care about their neighbors and their communities, but if we can make it a little easier for them, we should."


    Apart from property tax benefits, volunteer responders may also receive compensation for travel or phone use as well as community sponsored benefits such as free memberships to local workout facilities. Other taxable benefits under the IRS are banquets or events in support of volunteers and their efforts, even though these may be non-monetary signs of appreciation.

    If the bill passes, it would simplify the process for communities to provide benefits for their volunteers.

    "Volunteer firefighters save municipal, county, and state government taxpayers more than $37 billion every year," said NVFC Chairman Philip C. Stittleburg. "In order to retain and recruit volunteers, many local and state governments across the country provide them with modest benefits. When the federal government taxes these benefits, it diminishes, and in some cases eliminates, the incentive they were designed to create."

    Senator Dodd agreed.

    "I have long believed that our country should do more to encourage Americans to volunteer in their communities," Dodd said. "A modest tax break is not a large repayment for the great services that volunteer firefighters and emergency first responders provide to our communities. ... The least we can do is allow communities to offer modest incentives to recruit and retain volunteers."

    About 75 percent of firefighters and emergency first responders are volunteers. The amount of volunteers has declined by about 5 to 10 percent since 1983.

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    As with all these bills...here is the wrinkle.


    Define a volunteer fire fighter.

    About 75 percent of firefighters and emergency first responders are volunteers
    I'll bet that percentage is a lot lower based on the definition asked for. How many of that 75% get $X per call/training hour/etc?
    "This thread is being closed as it is off-topic and not related to the fire industry." - Isn't that what the Off Duty forum was for?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Bones42 View Post
    As with all these bills...here is the wrinkle.


    Define a volunteer fire fighter.

    I'll bet that percentage is a lot lower based on the definition asked for. How many of that 75% get $X per call/training hour/etc?
    The text of S. 3012 is not yet available on THOMAS or LEXIS. But chances are they will apply the FLSA definition of "volunteer".

    That definition of "volunteer", "does not preclude the payment of nominal amount on a 'per call' or similar basis."

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