To Attract Volunteer FFs, Emergency Medical Service Providers, Illinois Lawmakers Propose $500 Tax Credit

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Mike Koziatek
Belleville New Democrat

BELLEVILLE, Ill. — Volunteer fire chiefs have a battle to fight that doesn’t involve burning houses or car crashes.

They face a shortage of new recruits and have difficulty retaining experienced volunteers.


“They are risking their own safety to keep our communities safe and we all appreciate their work for our families,” said State Rep. Katie Stuart, D-Edwardsville, co-sponsor of the bill to grant grants. tax breaks to volunteer firefighters and EMS providers.

In an effort to bolster the ranks of volunteer firefighters and emergency medical service workers, state lawmakers have proposed a bill that would give volunteers a $500 tax credit on their income tax return. Illinois.

State Senator Christopher Belt, D- Swansea, said if the bill is approved it could cost the state an estimated $20 million to $22 million in lost revenue, but he said the sacrifice was worth it.

“I will argue that what it costs in the first place pales in comparison to the lives lost … without volunteer combatants, without EMS,” Belt said at a Friday press conference at the Signal Hill Fire Department near the West Side. of Belleville.

Belt is the sponsor of the bill in the Illinois Senate, which approved the proposal 51-0.

State Representative Katie Stuart, D-Edwardsville, is a co-sponsor of the bill in the state House of Representatives, where she is pushing for a vote on the plan before the end of the state’s session. General meeting scheduled for April 8.

“They risk their own safety to keep our communities safe and we all appreciate their work for our families,” Stuart said of the volunteers. “I hope we can continue to attract more people to the fire department on a voluntary basis and recognize the important work they do.”

Signal Hill Fire Chief Tom Elliff said he appreciates the work local lawmakers have done on this idea of ​​recruiting and retaining volunteers.

“We are seeing a shortage of volunteers not just in this fire department, but in communities in general,” Elliff said.

Ellliff noted that one department may have a decent number of volunteers, but a neighboring department may not have enough to provide mutual aid or serve as backup in a community where firefighters are on call.

Signal Hill has 19 volunteers and Elliff is the only full-time employee. This is a type of staffing model followed by many area fire departments.

Some cities, such as East St. Louis and Belleville, have full-time paid firefighters on duty 24 hours a day. The City of Belleville’s budget for the fire department is approximately $7.3 million for the fire department. fiscal year ending April 30. By comparison, Elliff said his department’s budget was around $380,000.

Signal Hill volunteers typically receive about $700 to $800 a year in payments from the ministry, depending on the number of calls they answer.

Elliff, who is president of the St. Clair/Monroe County Fire Chiefs Association, said the proposed $500 tax relief could help departments attract new volunteers, but also encourage retention of volunteers who have served for approximately five years and gained valuable experience. .

“The problem with volunteer firefighters is that you can’t necessarily have too many because you depend on their schedules,” he said.

Volunteer Firefighter and EMS Tax Credit Invoice

Here are the details of the $500 tax credit plan:

  • A volunteer must serve at least nine months per year and cannot earn more than $10,000 per year for their volunteer services in the tax year.
  • The credit cannot reduce a taxpayer’s liability to less than zero.
  • If the tax credit exceeds the tax payable for the year, the excess can be applied over the next five tax years.
  • The invoice is SB 3027.

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(c)2022 the Belleville News-Democrat (Belleville, Illinois)


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