TRENTON, N.J. – The Assembly on Friday passed a bill, sponsored by Assemblywoman DiAnne Gove and Assemblyman Brian Rumpf, providing a $2,000 income tax deduction for volunteer firefighters and first aid or rescue squad members who meet certain qualifications including hours worked and training participation.
The bill (A757) delivers financial assistance to dedicated community volunteers while supporting efforts to retain and recruit firefighters and other EMS personnel.
“It is critically important to emphasize that the firefighters and rescue and first aid squad members covered under our legislation are volunteers, meaning that their efforts provide tremendous cost savings to local taxpayers. These volunteers have always given their time to help others and, we should never forget, they were there for the community when needed most by overcoming unprecedented public health challenges created by the pandemic,” Gove said.
According to the latest stats from the state’s Department of Community Affairs Division of Fire Safety, roughly 77% or 26,298 of the state’s firefighters are volunteers, while roughly 7,700 are professionals.
“This tax deduction will be instrumental in helping retain and recruit volunteer fire and EMS personnel,” Rumpf said. “It is a sad fact that many who want to volunteer simply cannot because of financial considerations. If fewer people volunteer, municipalities will be forced to find alternative means of providing these services, which impacted residents could likely see in their tax bills.”
Under the proposal, firefighters would be able claim the $2,000 deduction if they volunteered during the entire tax year, performed 60% of fire duty, and attained the rank of Firefighter I Certified by January 1 of the tax year. To satisfy the fire duty requirement, volunteer firefighters without duty hours must have responded to 60% of the regular alarms and drills in which the department or force participated. Volunteer firefighters with duty hours must have at least 400 duty hours during a calendar year with no more than 50% of that time being drills.
First aid or rescue squad members would be able to claim the deduction if they volunteered during the entire tax year, performed 10% of rescue duty, and either passed an approved training program or qualified as an emergency medical technician by January 1 of the tax year. To satisfy the rescue duty requirement, squad members who volunteer with duty hours must complete at least 400 hours of duty during the year with no more than 50% of that time being drills. If they volunteer without duty hours, the squad members must attend and render first aid during no less than 10% of the regular alarms and participate in 60% of the drills.
“Very simply, these volunteer firefighters and rescue and first aid squad members have earned this tax deduction. They deserve this recognition. It is in the interest of public safety and good governance to compensate these individuals for their unwavering commitment to the community,” Gove and Rumpf said.
The Senate bill (S1697), introduced by Sen. Christopher Connors, has been referred to the Senate Law and Public Safety Committee.