Tax Relief for Volunteer Fire Fighters & Emergency Medical Service Agencies

This article is an excerpt from the Winter 2017 edition of the CGA Municipal Law Newsletter. It was written by paralegal Christine Bland.

Pennsylvania volunteer fire fighters and emergency service professionals received a Christmas gift from our legislature when Act 172 of 2016 was adopted last year. Act 172 authorizes municipalities to adopt an ordinance providing tax relief in the form of a tax credit for volunteer fire fighters and emergency service professionals residing within the municipality. The benefit can equate to up to 20% of the total municipality’s real estate tax burden (this does not include school or County taxes). The real estate tax relief  only applies to residential property. The municipality may also establish a credit against earned income tax. The earned income tax credit amount must be established in the ordinance. Prior to adopting the ordinance, the municipality must advertise its intention to adopt the ordinance 30 days prior to adoption and hold one public hearing on the issue. The governing body of the municipality may establish a volunteer service tax credit program. The ordinance must contain a process for rejecting a claim by a volunteer and provide for an appeals process. Upon adoption of the tax credit, the municipality must notify the Pennsylvania State Fire Commissioner.

Some of the specifics of the proposed ordinance remain to be detailed. For instance, authority is granted to the fire company to set up parameters or requirements for which volunteers will be eligible for the benefit. This will assure that only those volunteers who are actively involved in the organization receive the benefit. Guidance as to the details of those parameters, though, have not been set.

CGA is actively working with the Pennsylvania State Association of Boroughs in preparing an appropriate ordinance which will comply with Act 172.  Should you have questions about adoption of such an ordinance please contact your solicitor at CGA Law Firm.

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