HARRISBURG – Senator Scott Martin (R-13) will introduce a bill soon that would exempt volunteer fire companies from paying sales tax on food and beverages sold during fundraising events.
Under current law, volunteer fire companies must pay sales tax on all food and drinks purchased during fundraisers, such as chicken barbeques and pancake breakfasts. Martin’s proposal would ensure more of the money raised during these events could be used for equipment purchases, training and facility upgrades.
Martin noted that one volunteer fire company in his district plans to replace a 27-year-old tanker next year at a cost of up to $800,000. Although the volunteers have raised a significant sum of money to replace the aging tanker, upwards of $15,000 of that total will have to be sent to the state to cover the sales tax on food and beverages sold during fundraising events.
“Volunteer fire companies not only have to contend with fires, accidents and other emergencies, but also must battle against the increasing cost of equipment and training,” Martin said. “These organizations provide a critical layer of protection for our communities. State government shouldn’t be making it even more difficult and expensive for volunteer fire companies to protect our communities.”
Firefighting equipment costs increase by approximately 4.5 percent per year, and additional costs associated with workman’s compensation and cancer preemption has placed significant new financial burdens on fire companies in recent years.
On average, a volunteer firefighter spends 100 hours or more per year fundraising, in addition to the hundreds of hours spent training, attending meetings and maintaining equipment, Martin said.
CONTACT: Terry Trego (717) 787-6535