Friday, March 19, 2021

Bill would increase volunteer firefighters, EMTS tax credit

(Radio Iowa) - A bill under consideration in the Iowa Senate calls for a 10-fold increase in the state income tax credit for volunteer firefighters, EMTs and reserve law enforcement.

“While people may think this is a huge jump in one year, I think we’re catching up,” said Cyndi Peterson, a lobbyist for the Iowa Firefighters Association.

The tax credit for volunteers who serve as firefighters, emergency medical personnel or reserve police officers was increased from $50 to $100 in 2014. The bill would increase it to $1000. Peterson said there’s little, if any, type of reimbursement for the volunteers who respond to fires and medical emergencies in their communities, particularly in rural areas.

“There are some volunteer firefighters that get, like, $1 per call or they get some very minute amount of money,” Peterson said.

Senator Adrian Dickey of Packwood, who is a volunteer firefighter, is the bill’s sponsor.

“It gives the fire chief or the supervisor a tool to try and incentivize their members or their volunteers to attend their training sessions,” Dickey said, “to train on some of the things they need to do, that they’re required to do.”

The bill won approval in a Senate subcommittee on Thursday.

By one estimate, up to 20,000 are currently serving as volunteer firefighters. The $100 per year state tax credit for volunteer EMTs and firefighters was expanded in 2014 to include reserve officers who work as volunteers in Iowa police and sheriff’s departments.

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