Congress Passes Bill Protecting Volunteer Incentives ............ International Association of Fire Chiefs The International Association of Fire Chiefs issued the following news release: Fairfax, Va. - This evening, Congress passed legislation designed to protect the benefits provided to volunteer firefighters from federal taxation. H.R. 3648, the Mortgage Forgiveness Debt Relief Act of 2007, includes a provision that will specifically exclude from taxable income any property tax benefit and up to $360 per year of all other payments from a state or local unit of government to volunteer firefighters and EMS personnel. This benefit would last until the end of 2010. IAFC President Chief Steven P. Westermann praised this legislation as "a major win for America's volunteer fire and EMS service." VCOS Chairman Chief Tim Wall said this bill "provides a benefit to help provide for the retention of firefighters and EMS personnel in the volunteer system." Volunteer firefighters and EMS personnel face increasing demands on their time due to growing emergency call volumes, training and the struggle to balance the career and family obligations of today's two-income families. To help them, state and local governments provide a number of incentives, including reduced property taxes, banquets, free municipal water and other benefits. In 2002, the IRS began to count such state and local volunteer incentives as taxable income. The language in H.R. 3648 is based on the Volunteer Responder Incentive Protection Act (H.R. 943/S. 1466), which was introduced by Representative John Larson (D-CT) and Senator Christopher Dodd (D-CT). The IAFC joined with other fire-service organizations to support this legislation. "The IAFC appreciates Representative Larson's and Senator Dodd's commitment to the fire service," said Chief Wall. "This legislation is a stepping stone to benefit the volunteer fire service." The House also passed legislation as part of H.R. 3997, the Heroes Earnings Assistance and Relief Tax (HEART) Act of 2007, which would extend the volunteer incentive protection through 2015. This legislation will be considered by the Senate. The IAFC urges you to call your senators and ask them to support the passage of the volunteer firefighter and EMS provisions in H.R. 3997

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