It’s a common occurrence in many communities across the province: the familiar wail of a siren, followed by one or more fire trucks barreling down the road. Most of us likely don’t even think about the presence of firefighters in our communities on a daily basis. They’re an indispensible part of society. We just know that without them, we’d all be a lot worse off.
Which is why it may be surprising to some that in thousands of communities in Canada, many firefighters are not paid for their services – they’re volunteers. In fact, Canada has more than 85,000 volunteer firefighters from all kinds of backgrounds and occupations who are currently volunteering their own time to protect the lives and properties of their friends and neighbours. Sadly, many of them have even given their own lives while on duty.
This year, the federal government is making their job a little easier with the introduction of the brand new Volunteer Firefighter Tax Credit (VFTC) – a credit that Canadians wholeheartedly supported. This is a non-refundable tax credit that is available to any volunteer firefighter who serves at least 200 hours per year beginning on January 1, 2011. Volunteer Firefighters can expect the non-refundable credit to be $450 in 2011. A new line will be incorporated into the Schedule 1, Federal Tax to allow eligible Canadians to claim the credit.
It’s also important to know that some provinces, such as Quebec, Nova Scotia and Newfoundland and Labrador offer provincial Volunteer Firefighter Tax Credits too, some of which have been introduced on the heels of the Federal Tax Credit. This is the case for Quebec, which just recently added a new tax credit, effective January 1, and for Newfoundland and Labrador, which introduced a $3,000 provincial tax credit for volunteer firefighters earlier this year. Nova Scotia has offered a credit since 2007 and in 2008 expanded it to include ground search and rescue workers. Remember, no matter where you live, it’s important take stock of these credits and claim every penny you deserve – something that’s easy to do with TurboTax!
Do you know any volunteer firefighters? How important are they to your community?