CastroSPRINGFIELD State Senator Cristina Castro advanced a measure that would enable volunteers who serve at local disaster and emergency services agencies in Illinois to qualify for the volunteer emergency worker tax credit.

“When disaster strikes, emergency services volunteers are there to provide assistance, perform damage assessments, remove debris and, ultimately, help our communities recover,” said Castro (D-Elgin). “Giving them the ability to claim the same tax credit as volunteer firefighters is one small way we can extend our gratitude for their service while providing an incentive for others to volunteer in their communities.”

Senate Bill 2704 would allow certain municipal and county volunteer emergency workers to qualify for the Illinois volunteer emergency worker tax credit beginning in taxable year 2024. The volunteer would be eligible if they serve for at least 100 hours at a local emergency services and disaster agency during the taxable year, do not earn more than $5,000 for their service, and are registered with the Illinois Emergency Management Agency. These requirements would only apply to volunteers working with a local emergency services and disaster agency. Volunteer firefighters and emergency service volunteers with a fire department are already eligible for the tax credit.

Across the state, emergency services volunteers spend many hours training and responding to incidents and calls to either assist first responders or operate independently. These volunteers answer the call to serve their communities through traffic control, search and rescue, flood water removal, storm spotting and other areas. In many cases, their assistance allows for law enforcement and fire personnel to return to patrol or to their stations to respond to the next call. Castro’s measure would ensure these volunteers are entitled to the same tax credit as volunteer firefighters.

“These volunteers engage in response efforts that support our first responders, law enforcement, disaster relief agencies and community safety organizations,” said Castro. “They ought to be compensated for stepping up so our emergency management systems can operate quickly and effectively.”

Senate Bill 2704 passed the Senate Revenue Committee on Wednesday.