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Oklahoma State Senate
Communications Division
State Capitol
Oklahoma City, Oklahoma 73105

For Immediate Release: March 8, 2012

Legislators join together to support volunteer firefighters in rural Oklahoma

Senators Frank Simpson, Patrick Anderson and Don Barrington announced their opposition Thursday to a Senate bill that would eliminate a tax benefit for volunteer firefighters, among other tax credits and deductions. Senate Bill 1623 filed by Sen. Mike Mazzei would, among other actions, eliminate a small tax credit for volunteer fire fighters as part of an effort to save the state money to help fund the lowering of the state’s income tax rate. The bill will be heard next week.

“Rural Oklahoma is fortunate to have citizens who volunteer to serve their communities as volunteer firefighters,” said Simpson, R-Ardmore. “They risk so much to protect others, and the only benefit they receive is this small tax credit. I believe it is incredibly disingenuous for the state to take that away, and I urge my colleagues to support Senator Anderson's amendment that would protect this particular tax credit.”

Statute provides a tax credit for volunteer firefighters to help compensate them for expenses associated with training. Anderson will introduce an amendment to protect the volunteer fire fighter tax credit.

“It is important to understand that these volunteers have to attend several hours of training and meet other requirements before they are eligible for this tax credit,” said Anderson, R-Enid. “This is an earned tax credit – it is not a give-a-way.”

Each volunteer fire fighter can claim an earned tax credit of up to $400. The total annual cost to the state of the credit is $418,000.

Sen. Don Barrington, a retired Lawton fire fighter and Fire Chief, realizes the importance of the tax credit for rural fire fighters.

"These men and women take time away from their jobs and families and put their lives on the line to protect others’ property. They spend their own money on training and often times have to pay for their equipment," said Barrington, R-Lawton. "This financial incentive is a small price to pay for the service our volunteer firefighters provide to southern Oklahoma and other parts of the state. There are plenty of other tax credits that can be stopped that won't affect the safety of our citizens, and we need to focus on those and protect these public servants."

The legislators urge the public to call their senator and ask them to support their rural fire fighters.

For more information, contact:
Sen. Simpson: (405) 521-5607
Sen. Anderson: (405) 521-5630
Sen. Barrington: (405) 521-5563

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