State Senate OKs bill allowing tax break for volunteer first-responders

The state Senate unanimously passed a bill co-sponsored by state Sens. Lisa Baker (R-Dist. 20) and Sean Wiley (D-Dist. 49) that would allow municipalities to reduce or waive the earned-income tax for volunteer first-responders.

“The bill is one step in the right direction of an ongoing dialogue,” Wiley said.

Senate Bill 299 was drafted in response to the increasing shortage of volunteer firefighters and emergency medical technicians. “Many Pennsylvanians do not realize that 96 percent of our firefighters are not paid for jumping out of bed in the middle of the night to fight a fire or run to the scene of an accident," Baker said.

The shortage is attributed to Pennsylvania families’ growing need for multiple incomes, reducing the number of hours and resources available for volunteer activities. SB 299 would grant jurisdictions the authority to set their tax-credit amounts and guidelines, including the number of calls volunteers would need to answer and their required training level.

“Giving firefighters and EMTs 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,” Baker said. “When those first flames begin, every second counts.”

The bill now goes to the state House for consideration.

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