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Taxing Times in Congress

The 115th Congress is nearing the finish line and Congress is racing to complete a wide-reaching tax bill, the Retirement, Savings, and Other Tax Relief Act of 2018 (H.R. 88). While this bill has a number of priorities and goals, two provisions could bring big benefits to the fire service:
  1. Fire Sprinklers: Congress passed legislation last year that helped small business owners deduct the cost of fire sprinkler systems from their business taxes. However, when Congress drafted this bill, they unintentionally included an error which expands the depreciation schedule for fire sprinklers and other qualified improvement properties (QIPs) to 39 years from the intended one year. H.R. 88 contains a provision to address this error and allows fire sprinklers to qualify for an accelerated depreciation schedule. We need your help to make sure Congress keeps this provision in H.R. 88 or any tax bill that Congress may consider.
  2. Volunteer Incentives: The IRS continues to complicate the management of volunteer and combination fire departments by requiring nominal incentives for volunteer firefighters and EMS personnel to be considered taxable income. The IAFC urges Congress to pass the Volunteer Responder Incentive Protection Act (VRIPA) which would allow volunteer first responders to receive tax-based incentives and up to $600 in other incentives before being considered taxable income. A one-year version of VRIPA has strong bipartisan support in the House and Senate, but the House didn’t include it in H.R. 88. We need your help to urge Congress to include VRIPA in H.R. 88 or any other end-of-year tax bill that Congress might pass.

Log onto the IAFC’s online advocacy center and urge your members of Congress to support fire sprinklers and volunteer and combination fire departments!

Evan Davis is the IAFC's government relations manager and liaison to the EMS Section.

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