Oct. 21, 2019

Measure part of comprehensive ‘Heroes and Helpers’ bill package
HARRISBURG – Working to support the state’s first responders, the House Finance Committee today unanimously approved legislation sponsored by Rep. Clint Owlett (R-Tioga/Bradford/Potter) that would offer a tax credit to volunteers who pay for equipment out of their own pockets.

House Bill 376 would provide a tax credit of up to $500 for volunteers who purchase firefighting or other relevant equipment using their own money.

“The men and women who serve as volunteer firefighters and first responders already give so much of themselves to the vital mission of protecting public safety in our communities. To have them purchasing their own safety equipment as well simply doesn’t seem right,” Owlett said. “But with fire companies and other first responder organizations struggling financially, there often is no other option.

“Providing a tax credit not only helps offset their costs but also demonstrates our appreciation for their service and dedication,” he added.

Under the bill, any tax credit amount claimed by a volunteer emergency responder would have to be used in the taxable year in which the purchase of equipment was made. To receive a tax credit, a volunteer emergency responder would have to provide documentation to the Department of Revenue showing he or she is an active volunteer and the type and purchase price of the equipment.

The bill is one of several being considered by the state House this week as part of its “Heroes and Helpers” initiative. The measures are aimed at providing support and assistance to volunteer fire and emergency services organizations across the Commonwealth as they work to recruit and retain the volunteers they need to continue answering calls for help in their communities.

In addition to Owlett’s proposal, the package includes bills that would provide other incentives to volunteers, such as property or income tax credits, tuition assistance and loan forgiveness. Other measures would provide increased funding opportunities with greater flexibility for emergency responder organizations, expand access to online training, create stress management programs for first responders and more.

“Being a volunteer firefighter or emergency responder is one of the most selfless things anyone can do for his or her community,” said Owlett. “They not only give of their time and talents. They literally put their lives on the line to help others in need. We must not take their service for granted.”

The bill now goes to the full House for consideration.

In an effort to ensure ambulance service remains available in rural counties like Tioga, Bradford and Potter, Owlett is also the author of House Bill 1869. That measure, which passed the House Veterans Affairs and Emergency Preparedness Committee last month, would allow EMS companies in sixth-, seventh- and eighth-class counties to apply for a waiver to staffing requirements on a Basic Life Support ambulance. That bill is also pending consideration in the full House.

Representative Clint Owlett
68th District
Pennsylvania House of Representatives

Media Contact: Patricia Hippler
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Owlett Firefighter Tax Credit Bill Earns Committee Approval
Rep. Clint Owlett (R-Tioga/Bradford/Potter) addresses members of the House Finance Committee seeking support for his legislation that would offer a tax credit to volunteers who pay for equipment out of their own money. The committee approved the bill unanimously