Pa. lawmakers suggest tax credit to beef up dwindling volunteer firefighter force

Pennsylvania municipalities with a shortage of volunteer firefighters could eventually have a new recruiting tool.

Tax breaks.

Two state lawmakers have introduced legislation that would allow municipalities to waive local earned income taxes for volunteer first responders — including those at nonprofit EMS agencies — whose ranks have plummeted from 300,000 to 50,000 over three decades.

Growing the numbers of volunteers could stave off another, more expensive solution, according to a news release from the bill sponsors, state Sens. Lisa Baker, R-Luzerne, and Sean Wiley, D-Erie.

“If every local government in Pennsylvania had to convert to a paid firefighting force, it would cost an estimated $6 billion,” Baker said in a statement. “Giving firefighters a small break on their local taxes is a simple benefit that will compensate them in some small measure for their priceless life-saving work.”

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