Larson, Reichert Introduce Bill to Support Volunteer Firefighters and EMS Personnel
Washington, D.C. – This week, Reps. John B. Larson (D-CT) and Dave Reichert (R-WA) introduced the Volunteer Responder Incentive Protection Act of 2017 (VRIPA), a bipartisan bill that would provide a tax exemption on the benefits volunteer firefighters and emergency medical services (EMS) personnel receive from their communities.
“Volunteer firefighters and EMS personnel put their lives on the line to keep our communities safe,” said Larson. “These brave men and women should not be taxed on the small tokens of gratitude localities bestow in return for their selfless actions. This commonsense, bipartisan legislation will help ease some of the burdens of our volunteer first responders’ experience. It is the least we can do when they already sacrifice so much. I thank Rep. Reichert for being a partner on this legislation for so many years and his continued leadership on this issue."
“Firefighters and EMS personnel along with members of law enforcement are the individuals who come to our rescue when we are most in need,” said Reichert. “I know this to be true from my personal experience. Years ago a first responder came to my side and because of their help, I am here today. Like I learned long ago, these men and women are essential to the safety of our loved ones and to the security of our communities. Giving them much needed tax relief is the least we could do for individuals who are willing to run into a burning building or provide life-saving care on our behalf.”
What They’re Saying:
“On behalf of the National Volunteer Fire Council (NVFC) I’d like to thank Representatives David Reichert, John Larson and all of the bi-partisan original cosponsors for introducing this important legislation, which will help local emergency response agencies recruit and retain volunteer fire, EMS and rescue personnel," said NVFC chairman, Kevin D. Quinn. "On average a volunteer firefighter in the United States donates services worth more than $18,000 to the community that he or she serves every year. It is common sense to clarify that the nominal incentives that some volunteers receive in recognition of their service should not be taxed by the federal government."
“We commend Congressman Reichert and Congressman Larson for introducing this important legislation," said Bill Webb, Executive Director of the Congressional Fire Services Institute. "They understand the immense sacrifices our nation's firefighters make every day to protect our communities. Passage of the Volunteer Incentive Protection Act will help the volunteer fire service with recruitment and retention by enabling volunteer firefighters to keep certain benefits provided by state and local authorities, rather than returning a portion of that amount to the Internal Revenue Service. That's good legislation for the fire service and for our local communities.”
Rep. Larson first introduced the bill in the 107th Congress. The tax exemption was authorized in 2007 and expired in 2010. Since then, Rep. Larson has introduced a reauthorization bill in every Congress in order to bring back the exemption on the modest benefits volunteer responders receive. The legislation has received support from the Congressional Fire Services Institute, International Association of Fire Chiefs, National Association of Towns and Townships and National Volunteer Fire Council.