Bill sponsors say: Tax credits needed by volunteer first responders

Larry Limpf

A bill that would implement a three-tier tax credit for volunteer firefighters, EMS personnel and peace officers has been introduced in the Ohio House Representatives.
The sponsors, representatives Jay Edwards, R – Nelsonville, and Thomas Hall, R –Madison Township, said the credits are needed by the volunteers.
“This legislation will bring much needed relief to some of the greatest Ohioans among us,” Rep. Edwards said. “They truly are the unsung heroes who encounter countless situations to secure the safety of our lives and property, and as volunteers, they do so without compensation.”
The bill bases the credits on years of service:
- 1 to 5 years of service: $500 per year
- 6 to 10 years of service: $1,000 per year
- 11 + years of service: $2,000 per year
“While the tax credits provided in this legislation would only be a small token our appreciation for these volunteers’ sacrifices, the tax credits can go a long way to remove a heavy tax burden from them and their families,” Rep. Hall said.
Last year, a bill was introduced in the Ohio Senate that would have provided tax credits of up to $500 for expenses incurred by volunteer firefighters to purchase safety equipment.
That measure, Senate Bill 286, didn’t make it out of the Ways and Means Committee before the legislative session ended.
In testimony before the committee, Marisa Myers, director of governmental affairs for the Ohio Township Association, told the committee members that townships are heavily reliant on volunteers for safety services.
“To provide a little perspective, volunteers comprise 71 percent of firefighters in the United States and save local communities of all sizes an estimated $140 billion a year. Of the total number of volunteer firefighters, 95 percent work in communities with a population of 25,000 or less,” she said. “However, recent reports demonstrate that the number of volunteer firefighters has drastically declined. Unfortunately, the increased cost of training and equipment is discouraging many individuals from volunteer service.”
Last week, Myers said the OTA hasn’t reviewed the Hall-Edwards bill yet as it hasn’t received a number and been assigned to a committee.
“However, we are generally supportive of incentives that encourage volunteer service, as townships rely heavily on their volunteers. We will likely be supportive of this legislation as well,” she said.


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