A combination of IRS rules and Obamacare mandates could result in the elimination of volunteer fire departments across the country, according to Rep. Lou Barletta, R-Pa.
Barletta thinks that current policy requires companies to provide insurance to volunteer firefighters. "Forcing volunteer fire companies to comply with the Shared Responsibility Provision will not extend health insurance to the uninsured — rather, it will close firehouses and put communities at risk," he wrote in a letter to IRS Acting Commissioner Danny Werfel.
"Furthermore, subjecting volunteer fire companies to the Shared Responsibility Provision may force them to eliminate volunteers in order to avoid classification as a large employer," he also wrote.
Barletta told Werfel that the issue was raised to him by constituents. Barletta's press release explained that "currently the IRS treats all firefighters, volunteer or paid, as employees for federal tax purposes." Obamacare requires that companies with more than 50 employees must provide insurance.
“If incorrectly implemented, volunteer fire departments may be unintentionally forced to comply with requirements that could force them to close or curtail their emergency response activities," William Metcalf, president of the International Association of Fire Chiefs, said in a press release accompanying Barletta's letter.