Wednesday, April 23, 2014
Inquirer Daily News

Bucks County lawmakers concerned about volunteer firefighters

U.S. Representative Mike Fitzpatrick is a cosponsor of the recently introduced Protecting Volunteer Firefighters and Emergency Responders Act, which would explicitly exempt them from the new mandate over health insurance. (APRIL SAUL / Staff Photographer/File)
U.S. Representative Mike Fitzpatrick is a cosponsor of the recently introduced Protecting Volunteer Firefighters and Emergency Responders Act, which would explicitly exempt them from the new mandate over health insurance. (APRIL SAUL / Staff Photographer/File)

DOYLESTOWN - U.S. Rep. Mike Fitzpatrick (R., Bucks) was among a chorus of local and federal lawmakers on Wednesday who called on the IRS to ensure that volunteer firefighters aren't penalized under the Affordable Care Act.

In a conference call with reporters, Fitzpatrick said volunteer fire companies, which cover the vast majority of the Philadelphia suburbs, are considered employers by the IRS for federal tax purposes, and volunteer firefighters are considered employees.

The concern is that fire companies could be fined under the ACA for failing to provide health insurance to their volunteer firefighters, something that would be financially devastating to the organizations, Fitzpatrick said.

The congressman is a cosponsor of the recently introduced Protecting Volunteer Firefighters and Emergency Responders Act, which would explicitly exempt them from the law. He and other lawmakers said the IRS hasn't responded to their concerns. No one at the IRS could be reached for comment.

Sen. Robert P. Casey Jr. (D., Pa.), however, said Wednesday that he confirmed a commitment from the nominee to be the next IRS commissioner, John Andrew Koskinen, that he will quickly address the issue.

- Ben Finley

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