The State Assembly has recently approved a bill presented by Assemblywoman DiAnne Gove and Assemblyman Brian Rumpf.
Aiming to provide a $2,000 income tax deduction for volunteer firefighters and first aid or rescue squad members who meet specific criteria related to their work hours and training involvement
The bill’s primary objective, identified as A757, is to extend financial support to dedicated community volunteers while bolstering efforts to retain and attract firefighters and other emergency medical services (EMS) personnel.
Assemblywoman Gove emphasized the significance of acknowledging these volunteers’ crucial contributions and their role in generating substantial cost savings for local taxpayers. She highlighted the unwavering dedication of these individuals, particularly during the unprecedented challenges posed by the pandemic.
According to the latest statistics from the state’s Department of Community Affairs Division of Fire Safety, approximately 77%, or 26,298, of the state’s firefighters serve as volunteers, while around 7,700 are professionals.
Assemblyman Rumpf expressed his belief that this income tax deduction would play a vital role in retaining and attracting volunteer firefighters and EMS personnel. He noted the unfortunate reality that financial constraints prevent many potential volunteers from joining these essential services. If the number of volunteers declines, municipalities may need to explore alternative methods of delivering these critical services, potentially leading to income tax deduction.
The proposed legislation outlines the eligibility criteria for claiming the $2,000 income tax deduction
Volunteer firefighters must have volunteered for the entire tax year, performed at least 60% of fire duty, and attained the rank of Firefighter I Certified by January 1 of the tax year. Volunteers with duty hours must have accumulated a minimum of 400 duty hours in a calendar year, with no more than 50% of that time spent on drills.
First aid or rescue squad members can claim the income tax deduction if they volunteered for the entire tax year, and either completed an approved training program. Assemblywoman Gove and Assemblyman Rumpf stressed the significance of providing this income tax deduction to volunteer firefighters and first aid or rescue squad members, recognizing their deserving contribution. They argued that compensating these individuals aligns with public safety and good governance, acknowledging their unwavering commitment to the community.