Hudson Valley Firefighters to Get Huge Tax Break, But is it Fair?
Firefighters in New York State are getting a huge tax deduction, but some say it's just not fair.
At the end of last year, Governor Hochul signed legislation allowing counties to grant volunteer firefighters a break on their property taxes. If counties opt in, volunteer firefighters and ambulance workers will receive an exemption of up to 10%. On Tuesday, the Dutchess County legislature voted to adopt the benefit locally.
For some Hudson Valley firefighters, that will add up to a considerable amount of money. A volunteer firefighter living in Wappingers Falls who owns a home assessed at $500,000 would get back about $1,200. While that's the least we can do for our volunteers, many brave firefighters will never see that kind of money.
Of course, it's great that we're offering any sort of compensation to our volunteer firefighters, but it appears that the only ones who will benefit are those that already own a home. What about all of the volunteers that live in apartments or those that reside in a home that they don't personally own? Surely they're sacrificing just as much as other firefighters. Why don't they deserve the same benefit?
Volunteer firefighters that don't own a home are still eligible for a modest $200 income tax exemption. That benefit can't be combined with the property tax rebate, so essentially it's just for those who aren't homeowners. Again, it seems awfully unfair that some firefighters will be receiving a fraction of the same benefit their fellow first responders are receiving just because of where they live or their financial situation.
In fact, volunteers that don't own property should probably get a bigger benefit, not a smaller one. Someone who isn't financially able to own a home is making a much bigger sacrifice when they take time away from earning money at a paying job to volunteer as a first responder.
We want to know what you think. Should all volunteer firefighters be rewarded equally or do you like the idea of property tax breaks? Let us know your thoughts on our Facebook page or by sending us a text on our free app.