Assembly Republicans propose state income tax exemption for volunteer firefighters

Staff Reports Posted 21 May 2019 at 11:00 am

The Assembly Minority Conference on Monday touted legislation that would allow qualifying volunteer firefighters to be exempt from the state’s income tax.

Republicans in the State Assembly were joined by the Firemen’s Association of the State of New York (FASNY) at a news conference about the legislation.

“The upcoming Memorial Day weekend is just one example where volunteer firefighters and EMS will be working around the clock, spending precious time away from their families, to protect our community in the face of dangerous situations,” said State Assemblyman Steve Hawley, R-Batavia. “Sadly, more and more volunteer fire companies are being forced to close their doors, leaving their neighbors without the precious services they provide and we need to do something about it. These dedicated and brave individuals deserve our help and I implore Assembly leadership and our colleagues in the Majority to join us in getting this passed before session adjourns next month.”

To be eligible for the state income tax exemption, a volunteer must be in good standing, have a minimum year of service with the fire department, be certified by the Chief Emergency Service Coordinator of their county, and attend at least 55 percent of department activities.

“Our volunteer firefighters contribute so much to our communities,” said State Assemblyman Michael Norris, R-Lockport. “Not only do they save taxpayers billions annually, but they work tirelessly to protect our lives and property from floods and other natural disasters, support community events and organizations, and add to our overall quality of life. I am passionate about helping to increase recruitment of volunteer firefighters, and that’s why I authored a new package of bills to help.”

Besides supporting the bill offering firefighters the tax exemption, Norris also is introducing two new bills he authored that further support volunteer firefighter recruitment in our state. The first bill would create a scholarship program to help volunteer firefighters offset the cost of going to college. The second bill would create tax incentives for businesses that employ volunteer firefighters to offset time away from work for mandated trainings.

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