Volunteer Recruitment and Retention Legislation Introduced in Congress

On January 14, U.S. Representatives David B. McKinley (R-WV) and Dave Loebsack (D-IA) introduced bipartisan legislation, the Volunteer Emergency Responder Tax Deduction Act (HR 343), to bolster recruitment and retention of volunteer emergency services personnel. Representatives Leonard Lance (R-NJ), Evan Jenkins (R-WV), John C. Carney, Jr. (D-DE), Jim McDermott (D-WA), Luke Messer (R-IN), and Cheri Bustos (D-IL) signed onto H.R. 343 as original cosponsors. The bill allows volunteer emergency responders to claim the first 300 hours per year of services that they provide as charitable donations worth $20 per hour.

“I’d like to thank Representatives McKinley, Loebsack, and all of the co-sponsors for introducing this important legislation,” said Chief Philip C. Stittleburg, Chairman of the National Volunteer Fire Council (NVFC). “The services donated by volunteer emergency response personnel each year are worth more than $140 billion and the average responder donates services worth more than $18,000. At the same time, local agencies are increasingly struggling to recruit and retain volunteer personnel. This common sense bill allows responders to claim a portion of the value of the services they provide each year as a charitable donation, which they can write off on their income taxes.”

“Small towns across West Virginia and the country rely on volunteers to respond to fires, accidents, and other emergencies,” said McKinley. “Yet these same men and women are often forced to raise money to simply have adequate equipment and training. We can do more the help them.”

“Our volunteer firefighters stand ready to serve us the moment disaster strikes,” said Loebsack. “They donate their time and energy to keep us safe, and we can do more to support their critical role in the community. Over 90 percent of Iowa’s firefighters are volunteers, and this tax credit would provide an important recruitment tool for the fire departments to maintain the level of staffing that they need to do their jobs.”