Rural fire departments in Illinois are battling more than house fires. They’re also fighting a shortage of volunteers. To bolster the ranks, legislation is being proposed at the Illinois statehouse, providing a $500 tax credit for would-be volunteers. During a news conference Wednesday, Margaret Vaughn, director of government affairs with the Illinois Firefighter’s Association, said the shortage of volunteers is real and points to a recent 100-unit apartment fire.
“Under [National Fire Protection Association] standards, that would require 30 firefighters…five showed up,” said Vaughn.
To qualify for the proposed income tax credit, a volunteer must serve at least nine months a year and cannot earn more than $10,000 a year for their volunteer services during the taxable year. The proposed tax credit cannot reduce a taxpayer’s liability to less than zero.
The measure would cost the state in the neighborhood of 20 million dollars. Other states that offer a similar credit include New York, Iowa, and Maryland.