The Volunteer Service Credit Act (the “Act”), which is found in 35 Pa. C.S.A. Health and Safety, was amended in 2020 by Act 91 to allow active volunteer firefighters to take an even greater tax credit.
Financial Incentives for Emergency Service Volunteers
As many municipalities are experiencing first hand, volunteer fire and emergency service companies are declining in numbers of volunteers across the Commonwealth. The Act (Act 172 of 2016) was adopted to assist with recruiting and maintaining active volunteers by offering financial incentives. This credit allows for volunteer firefighters to obtain a credit against municipal real estate tax obligations for amounts they have paid that year in municipal real estate taxes (note, not, to include school real estate taxes). The original act authorized a real estate tax credit of up to 20% of the real estate tax liability of an active volunteer. The original act also provided for an earned income tax credit, at a flat rate set by the enacting municipality and that program is not effected by the 2020 amendments.
Tax Credit Increases
The most significant changes in 2020 were to raise the real estate tax credit from 20% to 100%, as determined by the enacting municipality and to authorize counties and school districts to implement these credits. The real estate tax credit amount may not exceed 100% of the tax liability of an active volunteer. The 2020 amendment also made it clear that EMS volunteers are included in the program and that school districts may also adopt the program.
In order to take advantage of this program for local active volunteers, a governing body must have adopted an ordinance or resolution that sets the amount of the credit, which can now be up to 100%. For governing bodies that have previously adopted the program, a new ordinance or resolution must be adopted to increase the percentage amount, up to 100%. If the program is adopted, volunteers would apply for a rebate through their participating governing body. Volunteers should contact their respective municipalities to determine if they can take advantage of these tax credits.
If you have questions about tax credits or any other municipal matter, please reach out to Attorney Mieke Driscoll, paralegal Christine Bland, or your CGA Municipal Law solicitor.
Margaret “Mieke” Driscoll
Business Law Chair | Shareholder | Attorney
Mieke Driscoll is a Shareholder and Chair of CGA’s Business Department. In addition to transactional work, she focuses her legal practice in the areas of real estate, municipal law, and non-profit law. From small family businesses to large corporate entities, Mieke advises business leaders on their legal obligations, rights and responsibilities. She provides advice on business structures and helps to evaluate ventures. She coordinates with fellow transactional lawyers in such specialties as tax, ERISA and real estate.
Read Mieke’s Bio Page in full HERE.
Paralegal, Municipal Law