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February 14, 2013

Bill would exempt firefighters’ equipment from state sales tax

— Legislation introduced by State Rep. Gary Haluska,

D-Patton, on Thursday will make firefighting equipment a bit lighter of a burden on volunteer responders.

The bill exempts individual firefighters from the 6 percent sales tax on personal purchases of protective gear. Some of those privately purchased items could run up to four figures.

Andrew Kaza, owner of Kaza Fire Equipment in Ebensburg, said a coat and a pair of pants go for around $1,500. The “bunker boots” for those pants are about $300, and a helmet could cost anywhere from $250 to $600.

Tax-exempt status would save buyers anywhere from $150 to $200, depending on the equipment purchased.

Career firefighters are already exempt from paying sales tax on equipment if it’s a job requirement.

That’s something that was first brought to Kaza’s attention during a visit from a state tax auditor. If the bill passes, either firefighters looking to upgrade their issued gear or

volunteers looking to fill out their suits would be free from sales tax.

“Sometimes they want a little better equipment than the company provides, or maybe they're using it for classes they attend on their own,” said Kaza.

The bill, Pa. H.B. 574, is currently awaiting approval from the House Finance Committee.

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