Recent data has shown that the number of volunteer firefighters might be dwindling. Proponents of a $1,000 federal tax credit -- up to 10 times the amount some volunteers get now -- for each qualifying volunteer firefighter believe this amount might help to attract and recruit more volunteers [source: Detling].
Volunteer Firefighter Tax Credit
Volunteer firefighters rarely receive pay of any kind, although some communities reimburse volunteers for the time they invest during their shifts [source: Volunteer FD]. Other fire departments may give their volunteers a limited amount of money for emergency response services [source: Riverside County Fire Department].
Despite the differences in the amount of financial incentives available to volunteer firefighters, tax credits are becoming a more common way to show the community's appreciation. In some states, volunteer firefighters that have worked the required number of hours can claim a tax credit on their tax returns. In order to claim a tax credit, a volunteer firefighter must fill out an application to determine eligibility for the tax credit. Then, that application form must be attached to the volunteer firefighter's state income tax form [source: Senator Dinniman].
Different states award volunteer firefighters varying levels of tax credit. At this time, not all states are able to provide tax credits, but others might provide a $100, $200 or $500 tax credit. Tax credits are in place as an incentive for volunteer firefighters. Supporters of tax credits for volunteer firefighters say that providing such an incentive is a good way to retain volunteers and lower taxes since fire departments won't need to hire as many career firefighters [source: Detling].
Regardless of payment, the service you provide by working as a volunteer firefighter is a rewarding and mutually beneficial experience for both you and your community. Check out the links on the next page to learn even more about volunteering.