From: The Honorable David G. Reichert
Sent By:
Zach.Lilly@mail.house.gov

Date: 2/22/2017

Support Volunteer Fire and EMS Agencies and Personnel!

Become an Original Cosponsor of the

Volunteer Responder Incentive Protection Act

DEADLINE: COB February 27th

Supporting Organizations:  Congressional Fire Services Institute, International Association of Fire Chiefs, National Association of Towns and Townships, National Volunteer Fire Council

Dear Colleague,

We invite you to become a cosponsor of the Volunteer Responder Incentive Protection Act
of 2017 (VRIPA). This bipartisan bill would put in place and make permanent a similar tax exemption that Congress passed in 2007 on the benefits communities across the country provide to volunteer firefighters and emergency medical services (EMS) personnel.
Unfortunately, this exemption expired at the end of 2010, and fire and EMS agencies are finding it increasingly difficult to recruit and retain the next generation of volunteers.

There are approximately one million volunteer firefighters and EMS providers in the United States. Nationally, 87 percent of fire departments are made up of all or mostly volunteer firefighters who are responsible for protecting 37 percent of the population
of the U.S. The services donated by these volunteers are estimated to save local communities approximately $140 billion annually.

In recent years, recruitment and retention of volunteers has become more challenging. As jobs leave rural areas, working-age people are increasingly moving away or commuting longer distances to find work leaving fewer people with less time available to volunteer.
Meanwhile, rising training and certification requirements along with higher call volumes have put additional time pressure on volunteers. In order to bolster recruitment and retention, many volunteer fire and EMS agencies provide minor financial and non-monetary
incentives. These benefits can include uniforms, annual awards ceremonies, reduced property taxes, and other incentives that cost very little. Even modest incentives show volunteers that their service is valued.

With the expiration of this exemption, volunteers must now pay federal income tax on these small incentives. Federal taxation reduces the value of volunteer benefits and creates an administrative hardship on the communities that must now process tax paperwork
and calculate how much should be withheld.

Our legislation would allow volunteer first responders to exempt from federal taxation any property tax reductions and up to $600 per year of the other types of benefits that they may receive. VRIPA reduces the administrative burden by enabling local agencies
and governments to not only retain these trained professionals and recruit the next generation – but to keep their communities safe. We hope you will join with us in supporting these brave volunteers and thanking them for their service.

To become a cosponsor of VRIPA, please contact Natalie Kamphaus with Rep. Reichert’s office (Natalie.Kamphaus@mail.house.gov or  x.5-7761) or
Sylvia Lee with Rep. Larson’s office (Sylvia.Lee@mail.house.gov or x.5-2265).