Although most people probably think of economic development or job creation when they think of tax credits, that is not always the case. States also address civic problems through the use of tax credits. A perfect example of states addressing important community needs is credits for volunteer firefighters and emergency responders.
In 2015, 70 percent of all firefighters in the U.S. were volunteers, according to an April 2017 National Fire Protection Association fact sheet. During that timeframe, 19,762 of the approximately 29,727 fire departments in the country were entirely volunteer departments, according to the fact sheet.
These statistics illustrate that a large portion of the nation’s firefighters work on a volunteer basis. However, recruitment and retention of volunteer firefighters is increasingly becoming a major problem.
For example, Williamson County in Tennessee has only succeeded in recruiting 25 percent of their goal of 1,000 volunteer firefighters, as reported by the Tennessean. North Carolina and Wisconsin also illustrate the ongoing firefighter recruitment issue facing states, as both states are also working to address volunteer shortages.
Similar recruitment problems led Pennsylvania to enact a law which allows municipalities to establish tax credits for volunteer firefighters in 2016, according to the Public Opinion. The legislation permits municipalities to offer volunteer firefighters a credit against their earned income tax and property taxes.
Currently six states offer tax credits to volunteer firefighters and/or emergency responders—Delaware, Iowa, Nebraska, New York, Oklahoma, and the aforementioned Pennsylvania.
These income tax credits, normally ranging from $100 to $400 per year, provide some economic incentive for individuals to volunteer as firefighters in addition to working their normal day jobs.
However, even for states with volunteer firefighter credits, an end to volunteer shortages may not be on the horizon. In New York, a state which offers a credit for volunteer firefighters, at least one county feels that a larger tax credit should be offered to help deal with the shortage. For this reason the Board of Supervisors of Madison County voted to back a new push for the state to increase the volunteer firefighter credit from $200 per year to $500 per year, according to the Rome Sentinel.
For now at least, it remains to be seen if tax credits, like those offered in New York and Pennsylvania, will be enough for states to change the tide of volunteer firefighter recruiting.
*Continue the discussion on Bloomberg BNA's State Tax Group on LinkedIn: Are tax credits a useful way to address civic needs like increasing the number of volunteer firefighters?
Get a free trial to Bloomberg BNA Tax & Accounting's State Tax solution, a comprehensive research service that provides deep analysis and time-saving practice tools to help practitioners make well-informed decisions.
All Bloomberg BNA treatises are available on standing order, which ensures you will always receive the most current edition of the book or supplement of the title you have ordered from Bloomberg BNA’s book division. As soon as a new supplement or edition is published (usually annually) for a title you’ve previously purchased and requested to be placed on standing order, we’ll ship it to you to review for 30 days without any obligation. During this period, you can either (a) honor the invoice and receive a 5% discount (in addition to any other discounts you may qualify for) off the then-current price of the update, plus shipping and handling or (b) return the book(s), in which case, your invoice will be cancelled upon receipt of the book(s). Call us for a prepaid UPS label for your return. It’s as simple and easy as that. Most importantly, standing orders mean you will never have to worry about the timeliness of the information you’re relying on. And, you may discontinue standing orders at any time by contacting us at 1.800.960.1220 or by sending an email to email@example.com.
Put me on standing order at a 5% discount off list price of all future updates, in addition to any other discounts I may quality for. (Returnable within 30 days.)
Notify me when updates are available (No standing order will be created).
This Bloomberg BNA report is available on standing order, which ensures you will all receive the latest edition. This report is updated annually and we will send you the latest edition once it has been published. By signing up for standing order you will never have to worry about the timeliness of the information you need. And, you may discontinue standing orders at any time by contacting us at 1.800.372.1033, option 5, or by sending us an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Put me on standing order
Notify me when new releases are available (no standing order will be created)