What Can Volunteer Firefighters Itemize for Deductions?

by Jennifer Hench

    Volunteer firefighters are emergency services personnel who assist as first responders to various situations. Fires, car wrecks and industrial accidents all require firefighters for assistance. The expenses incurred by volunteer firefighters can add up throughout the year and those performing such a public service can deduct all viable expenses on income tax returns to help offset the cost of being a volunteer.

    Bunker Gear, Boots, Protective Clothing

    Firefighters who volunteer at a station are issued bunker gear, boots, safety goggles and other types of protective clothing to ensure their personal safety while performing duties. Firefighters who choose to purchase additional gear, at their own expense, can deduct the cost of the items as a charitable contribution. This type of deduction is allowed if the items cannot be used for other purposes and the items are solely for the use of volunteering services to the charitable organization, in this case the volunteer fire department.

    Mileage

    Volunteer firefighters who need to drive between home, work, school or elsewhere to the fire station to take fire calls can log those miles accumulated throughout the year and deduct those as a charitable expense. This type of deduction is taken as a type of charitable contribution as the mileage is accrued to provide a service to the organization. The standard rate for mileage is used to calculate the total deduction available for the current tax year.

    Training and Education

    Training and continuing education, relevant to firefighting and emergency services, is provided by the volunteer fire station on a routine basis. You may also opt to take additional classes and sessions to further enhance your own skills to make yourself a more qualified firefighter. You can deduct the amount paid for such classes and coursework as an educational expense that was not reimbursed by using the line available on Form 1040. You do not need to itemize your deductions to receive this deduction.

    Donations

    Volunteer firefighters are required to pay annual dues to the fire company to be considered full and active members of the station. The dues can be deducted from income taxes under the dues and membership section of Schedule A for Form 1040 for those with enough itemized deductions to surpass the standard deduction, or the firehouse dues can be deducted as a straight charitable contribution.

    Photo Credits

    • Firefighter on hill image by Tara Dodrill from Fotolia.com

    About the Author

    Jennifer Hench has been writing since 1990 on topics ranging from finance to technology. Her articles have appeared in "Network World" magazine, "Electrical Contractor" magazine as well as in other print and online media. Hench holds a Bachelor of Science in accounting and another in information systems from Lebanon Valley College and Lock Haven University.

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