HARRISBURG — Senator Scott Martin (R-13) introduced legislation recently that would allow volunteer fire companies to keep more of the money they generate during fundraisers.
Senate Bill 952 would exempt volunteer fire companies from paying sales tax on food and beverages sold for fundraising events, such as chicken barbeques and pancake breakfasts. Under current law, volunteer fire companies pay the six-percent sales tax on all sales during these events. For perspective, school sports booster clubs are not required to remit sales tax to the Commonwealth on food items that they sell.
Martin said the legislation is a priority because the cost of firefighting equipment and training continues to rise, while the number of volunteers continues to decline. On average, the cost of equipment increases by 4.5 percent every year. A cancer preemption law passed in 2011 also placed additional financial burdens on fire companies.
“It is counterproductive for our volunteers to spend even more time and energy to do additional fundraisers just to pay their tax bill, especially when they have more pressing needs in buying equipment and ensuring volunteers have the training they need to save lives,” Martin said. “Volunteer fire companies provide an incredible service to our communities, and we need to explore new ways that we can help them in their mission to protect our lives and property.”
Martin noted that one volunteer fire company in his district in southern Lancaster County needs to replace a 27-year-old tanker next year at a cost of up to $800,000. The fire company estimates that $15,000-$18,000 of what they raise to pay for the new tanker will have to be remitted back to the state.
CONTACT: Terry Trego (717) 787-6535