Oct. 23, 2019

House Bill 1839 addresses county tax relief for volunteer first responders
HARRISBURG – Rep. Bob Brooks’ (R-Westmoreland/Allegheny) legislation to help recruit more first responders across Pennsylvania by authorizing counties to offer a tax credit against the property tax liability of active volunteers of a fire or emergency medical services (EMS) company passed the House of Representatives unanimously today.

Brooks’ legislation is part of the “Helpers and Heroes” package of bills to assist emergency responders. The bills deal with two of the most critical issues facing these fire and ambulance companies – recruiting members and retaining their talents.

To view Rep. Brooks’ comments on his legislation, click here.

“Recruitment and retention of volunteers in our emergency services community is vital, and our local companies are currently suffering from the lack of ability to recruit and maintain volunteers,” said Brooks. “We depend on these hard-working and dedicated first responders on a daily basis to protect our citizens and our properties.”

Brooks’ legislation builds upon Act 172 of 2016, which authorized local municipalities to adopt a property tax credit for first responders. House Bill 1839 would expand Act 172 by authorizing counties to offer active volunteers a tax credit. In addition, the current property tax credit allowance is up to 20% of an active volunteer’s tax liability. Brooks’ bill would increase this amount to up to 100% of their tax liability.

Pennsylvania has 2,463 fire companies, with more than 90% of those operating on a volunteer capacity. The 54th Legislative District has 16 volunteer companies. The total number of emergency responders in Pennsylvania has shrunk from 300,000 in 1970 to approximately 60,000 in the early 2000s, to just 38,000 in 2018.

“By providing the legal mechanism to make this happen, I am hopeful that once my legislation is signed into law, counties statewide quickly work to enact it on their level,” said Brooks. “This commonsense legislation is one way to say ‘thank you’ to our first responders for their tireless work to ensure our safety.”

House Bill 1839 now moves to the Senate for consideration.

Representative Bob Brooks
54th Legislative District
Pennsylvania House of Representatives

Media Contact: Rick Leiner
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