Sending Office: Honorable John B. Larson
Support Volunteer Responders During COVID-19 Pandemic!
Click here to cosponsor VRIPA (HR 1241)
Current Cosponsors: Larson, M. Kelly, Axne, Beyer, Blumenauer, Blunt, Bost, Boyle, Brindisi, Butterfield, Cole, Courtney, R. Davis, DeFazio, DeLauro, DelBene, Fitzpatrick, Gallego, Jackson Lee, D. Joyce, Kilmer, P. King, Kuster,
LaHood, Lamb, Latta, Marshall, Meuser, Pascrell, Pingree, Pocan, Posey, Ryan, Scanlon, Stauber, Stefanik, Suozzi, Swalwell, G. Thompson, Walberk, Wexton, Wild
Endorsing Organizations: Congressional Fire Services Institute, International Association of Fire Chiefs, National Association of Towns and Townships, National Volunteer Fire Council
As our nation faces the historic COVID-19 crisis, we urge you to cosponsor the Volunteer Responder Incentive Protection Act of 2019 (VRIPA), HR 1241, to protect resources for approximately
one million volunteer firefighters and EMS personnel who serve on the front lines of the pandemic. Nationally, 70 percent of all firefighters are volunteers and 91 percent of fire departments are made up of all or mostly volunteer
firefighters and EMS personnel. These volunteers are undergoing unprecedented challenges as they provide essential services despite shortages of personal protective equipment (PPE) further risking their lives due to COVID-19. Now more than
ever, it is of utmost importance for Congress to ensure these volunteer departments are sufficiently equipped and staffed.
In the best of times, recruitment for emergency personnel is difficult. However, the rising numbers of first responders being quarantined due to COVID-19 exposures as well as the implementation of social distancing measures disrupting recruitment opportunities
have only heightened staffing shortages for thousands of volunteer fire and EMS agencies. To further exacerbate the staffing and recruitment challenges, their nominal recruitment and retention benefits, such as uniforms and local property tax credits, will
be taxed if Congress doesn’t act before the end of the year to permanently reauthorize their income tax exemption on small incentives for their service.
Unfortunately, the tax code classifies recruitment and retention benefits as taxable income forcing volunteer responders to pay taxes on uniforms that they wear to do their job. Last year, Congress passed the SECURE Act (PL 11-93) exempting volunteer firefighters
and EMS personnel from being taxed on nominal benefits during the 2020 tax year. However, this provision is set to expire at the end of December.
Our bipartisan proposal would permanently extend the exemption of nominal recruitment and retention incentives such as property tax reductions and up to $600 in other types of benefits from being considered as taxable income. These brave
volunteers should not be taxed for their uniforms and other minimal benefits that are extended in return for their donated services, which are estimated to save local communities approximately $140 billion annually. VRIPA protects a critical tool enabling
local agencies and governments to ensure they are sufficiently staffed to keep their communities safe. We hope you will be able to join me supporting these brave volunteers and thanking them for their service.
John B. Larson Mike Kelly
Member of Congress Member of Congress
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