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Congress passes Volunteer Responder Incentive Protection Act - 12/18/2007

Editor's note: The Volunteer Responder Incentive Protection Act was one of the NVFC's top legislative priorities in 2007. What new legislation would you like to see drawn up in 2008 that would help you in your job? Have your say in the FireRescue1 Forums.

By FireRescue1 Staff

WASHINGTON ó New legislation was passed Tuesday that will prohibit the federal government from taxing benefits provided to volunteer firefighters and EMS personnel by state and local authorities.

The Volunteer Responder Incentive Protection Act (VRIPA) was passed by the House of Representatives after it went through the Senate last week.

The act, one of the NVFC's top legislative priorities in 2007, is now headed to the president for signature.   

Leaders from the NVFC testified before the House Ways and Means Committee in October about the need to protect the benefits communities across the country provide to volunteer firefighters and EMS personnel as a recruitment and retention tool.

"Federal taxation of volunteer first responder benefits has several effects," said John McAuliffe, NVFC Connecticut State Director, during the testimony. "The most obvious is to reduce the value of the benefit to the volunteer."

The language that passed in H.R. 3648 exempts all tax benefits provided by state and local units of government to volunteer firefighters and EMS personnel from taxation by the federal government. Additionally, the first $360 per year of any other type of benefit that a volunteer receives would be exempted from taxation.

VRIPA originally passed the House of Representatives on November 6, as part of H.R. 3997. Then last week, the Senate inserted the VRIPA language into H.R. 3648. All throughout this process, the NVFC has been contacting U.S. Senators and Representatives to advocate passage of the provision and asking our members to do the same.

"Iím very pleased to announce the passage of the Volunteer Responder Incentive Protection Act," said NVFC Chairman Philip C. Stittleburg. "This is a tremendous benefit for volunteer emergency responders and the communities that rely on their service."

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