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Bill could help volunteer firefighters

Kentucky Democrat Representative Rick G. Nelson, of Middlesboro, has introduced a bill that, if passed, could help volunteer firefighters recover some of their expenses at tax time.

“To become a volunteer firefighter, individuals must dedicate many hours of personal time for training and physical ability testing,” said Nelson. “Most volunteers do not get paid when responding to calls or for the required training. If payment is made, those payments may not cover the expenses of the volunteer.”

Nelson has proposed an individual income tax credit for certain volunteer firefighters to entice individuals to join volunteer fire departments and to partially compensate individuals for the costs associated with being a volunteer firefighter. He said the proposal calls for a credit to be created in January. It would be equal to $1,000 for each active certified volunteer firefighter.

An active certified volunteer firefighter is defined as a firefighter who:

• volunteers for a qualified fire department;

• is active with a qualified fire department for the entire taxable year for which the tax credit is claimed;

• and appears on the list of certified volunteer firefighter provided by the Commission on Fire Protection Personnel Standards and Education.

Nelson said he intends to pre-file his legislation this year to be introduced during the 2017 General Assembly.

“The state has more volunteer fire departments than cities,” Nelson said. “Staffing those departments are nearly 18,000 volunteer firefighters. There is no doubt about it; volunteer fire departments are a major provider of services in rural Kentucky and it is time the legislature acts to preserve these institutions.”

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