All across America, volunteer firefighters give their time to protect the property and safety of their neighbors. Many volunteer fire companies have expanded their reach beyond firefighting to include rescue and emergency medical services as well. One thing all volunteer fire companies have in common is that they rely heavily on financial support from the publics they serve. Some of that support may be tax-deductible.
Volunteer Fire Company Dues and Donations
Volunteer fire companies traditionally have raised substantial portions of their costs with fundraising for charitable donations. Some also charge residents dues, or subscription fees, when state and local funding and charitable donations leave gaps in their budgets. An informal survey of fire companies across the country shows that among those companies that charge dues, some only respond to calls of paid subscribers, while others respond regardless of whether a resident has paid. A third category responds to non-payees but charges them the cost of the service.
Property Tax Deductions
Some jurisdictions include volunteer fire dues in local tax bills to help ensure payment. If your local taxing authority includes your dues in your tax bill, you may be able to deduct the fee. According to the IRS, your taxing authority must tax all property in its jurisdiction at the same rate; the fee must be commingled with general revenue funds rather than earmarked specifically for fire protection; and the funds mustn't be limited to or determined by the amount of these funds the local taxing authority collects.
Category 501(c)(4) Deductions
Volunteer fire departments are among the types of organizations that receive 501(c)(4) tax-exempt status -- those whose primary purpose is social welfare but who also lobby about issues of interest to them. The 'Lectric Law Library notes that although contributions to 501(c)(4) fire companies usually can't be deducted as charitable donations, in the case of volunteer fire companies, contributions may be deductible if the funds are used for public purposes. They may also qualify as business expenses. While dues themselves aren't charitable donations, amounts paid voluntarily in excess of the minimum dues payment are if the volunteer fire company is categorized as a section 170(c) nonprofit.
Dues Deductions for Volunteer Firemen
Firefighters may deduct "ordinary and necessary" expenses related to their service, according to Summit Accounting Group. The dues that firefighters pay to professional societies related to firefighting are eligible, as are dues for mandatory firefighting-union memberships.