U.S. volunteer firefighters and chiefs encouraged to familiarize themselves with the new law

Chantilly, Virginia --  The International Association of Fire Chiefs (IAFC) applauds recent Congressional passage of the Volunteer Responder Incentive Protection Act (VRIPA) and encourages all U.S. volunteer firefighters and chiefs to familiarize themselves with the new law’s provisions.

VRIPA exempts nominal incentives for volunteer first responders from being considered taxable income for the 2020 tax year. For 2020, the newly restored VRIPA will exempt from income tax all property tax-based incentives and up to $600 in other incentives. This tax protection expires on December 31, 2020

“As local jurisdictions struggle to recruit and retain volunteer firefighters and EMS personnel, many local governments offer nominal recruitment and retention incentives,” said Fire Chief Gary Ludwig, IAFC president and chairman of the board. “The incentives contained in VRIPA are helpful in defraying costs incurred by volunteers as well as displaying a community’s thanks for the volunteer’s service.”

Nominal incentives commonly offered to volunteer firefighters include:
•    Local property tax waivers
•    T-shirts and other Class C uniform items (belts, shorts, job shirts, etc.)
•    County park passes
•    Monetary stipends

In the mid-2000s, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) re-classified volunteer firefighters and EMS personnel to be “employees” of their fire departments. This reclassification required fire departments to provide W-2 forms to each volunteer. As a result, any value of incentives were required to be reported on W-2 forms and volunteers were taxed on these amounts.

Congress passed the SECURE Act on December 17, 2019 which included a one-year version of VRIPA.

The IAFC urges Congress to pass VRIPA (H.R. 1241/S. 1210) which would permanently reauthorize this tax protection and recognizes Representatives John Larson (D-CT) and Mike Kelly (R-PA) and Senators Susan Collins (R-ME) and Ben Cardin (D-MD) for their sponsorship of the H.R. 1241 and S. 1210. The IAFC also thanks Senator Chuck Schumer (D-NY) who was a previous sponsor of the VRIPA and assisted in having the one-year version of the VRIPA added into the SECURE Act.

All IAFC members are strongly encouraged to use the IAFC’s online advocacy system to contact their members of Congress and urge them to pass the full VRIPA (H.R. 1241/S. 1210).

About the International Association of Fire Chiefs (IAFC)
The IAFC represents the leadership of firefighters and emergency responders worldwide. IAFC members are the world's leading experts in firefighting, emergency medical services, terrorism response, hazardous materials spills, natural disasters, search and rescue, and public safety legislation. Since 1873, the IAFC has provided a forum for its members to exchange ideas, develop professionally and uncover the latest products and services available to first responders. Learn more

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