Frazer offers tax credit to volunteer firefighters
Resident volunteer firefighters in Frazer’s two fire companies can seek a $250 break on their wage taxes starting this year.
Township supervisors unanimously approved the criteria for a tax credit program, which previously was established by an ordinance. The aim is to provide an incentive for residents to volunteer for the fire service.
Now it is up to Frazer No. 1 and Frazer No. 2 fire companies to compile a list of those who are eligible to meet the deadline for this year.
“They have to file a list of eligible applicants by Nov. 15 and then I have to turn that in to our tax collector, Keystone Collections by Dec. 31,” said Township Secretary/Treasurer Lori Ziencik, who also serves as a township supervisor.
Ziencik said there are 14 firefighters in Frazer No. 1, most of whom are township residents. She said there are 26 firefighters in Frazer No. 2 but most of them are not residents and therefore would not be eligible for the tax credit offered by Frazer.
However, Ziencik said it is possible they could be eligible, based on their volunteer service in Frazer, for a tax credit in the community where they live if the tax credit program there allows it.
She said Frazer’s program does not provide a credit for volunteer firefighters who are not Frazer residents nor does it apply to township residents who volunteer in other communities.
“We don’t need our residents to be volunteer firefighters in other departments,” Ziencik said. “We need them to be firefighters in our fire companies.”
The credit applies only to wage taxes, not to real estate taxes. Some communities have set a credit amount that could be applied to real estate taxes as well in order to provide a benefit to volunteers who may be retired or not permanently employed and do not pay wage taxes.
“We didn’t consider the property tax because it is so low and we have the property tax exemption on top of that,” Ziencik explained.
The Homestead Exemption for Frazer is $40,000..
She said, under the criteria, eligibility is determined from Nov. 1 of the preceding year to Oct. 31. of the current year.
The eligibility requirements Include:
- A volunteer responding to a minimum of 20 percent of all calls and activities of a the fire company.
- Passing at least one of the four modules of the Essentials of Firefighting Program. Volunteers who passed the Fundamentals of Firefighting Program prior to April 1, 2014 will be considered to be in compliance with this requirement.
- A minimum of 100 hours of service to a fire company must be logged during an eligibility period. That includes time spent in training, answering calls, support services administration, facility/equipment maintenance, public relations,community events and fundraising.
- Completion of basic requirements for their classification as outlined in the company bylaws.
- Maintaining membership in good standing as outlined by the fire company bylaws.
Ziencik said she does not know exactly how much the tax credit will cost the township in revenue.
“I believe it will be minimal,” she said.
Tom Yerace is a freelance writer.