IRS Announces that Volunteers will not be Treated as Employees Under Obamacare

On January 10, Assistant Secretary for Tax Policy Mark Mazur posted a notice on the U.S. Department of Treasury’s blog that the IRS, “…will not require volunteer hours of bona fide volunteer firefighters and volunteer emergency medical personnel at governmental or tax-exempt organizations to be counted when determining full-time employees (or full-time equivalents).” This is exactly what the National Volunteer Fire Council (NVFC) had asked for in a September 9 letter to the IRS regarding this issue.

“This is very good news for the nation’s volunteer fire and EMS community,” said NVFC Chairman Philip C. Stittleburg. “We’ll need to wait and see what the final implementing regulations say to ensure that they address our concerns fully but based on the information in Assistant Secretary Mazur’s announcement it appears that emergency services agencies will not be forced to provide health insurance coverage to volunteer personnel under Obamacare.”

The Treasury announcement references having reviewed, “…statutory provisions that apply to bona fide volunteers under Section 457(e)(11) of the Tax Code…” in reaching the decision not to treat volunteers as employees under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA). Section 457(e)(11)(i) is a definition of bona fide volunteer that allows for individuals to be treated as volunteers even if they receive compensation for performing services in the form of reimbursement for reasonable expenses or reasonable benefits such as length of service awards or nominal fees.

Ensuring that nominally compensated volunteers would not be considered employees under the PPACA has been a top priority for the NVFC. Click on the articles below for more information on this issue.