New tax break for SAR members

Trent Ernst, Editor


Members of the Tumbler Ridge SAR will enjoy a $450 tax credit on this year’s taxes, thanks to the Conservative government.

The way it works is SAR members that have volunteered more than 200 hours in a year—training, going on rescues and other SAR duties—can claim an amount of $3000 on their tax form. They are then able to claim 15 percent of that, or $450.

Tumbler Ridge SAR President Craig Waters says that this goes towards offsetting the costs of personal equipment used “The government recognizes that volunteers don’t just volunteer their time, but a fair amount of their personal equipment as well,” says Waters. “We need to purchase our own clothing and equipment. We use our vehicles. Our own snowmobiles, climbing ropes, crampons…TR SAR just purchased our own rope rescue set-up, as we have three people who are now certified, but we have our own harnesses, as well as any personal safety devices. Everyone has their own 24 hour pack with all the gear they need to survive in the bush that they’re required to carry out in the bush.”

The search and rescue volunteers tax credit will be available to search and rescue volunteers who perform at least 200 hours of eligible service during a year, and provides up to $450 in tax savings for these dedicated individuals as they serve their communities. The new tax credit builds on the Government’s record of tax relief and the introduction of the volunteer firefighter’s tax credit in 2011.

According to the Government of Canada, there are approximately 85,000 volunteer firefighters in Canada and 18,000 volunteer Search and Rescue Members. Recognizing that these two groups often overlap, the hours volunteered for search and rescue along with firefighter activities can be combined.

Federal Finance Minister Jim Flaherty says that the government wants to help volunteers who are helping others with this tax break. “We recognize that this is volunteer work, that you extend yourselves beyond your normal jobs, in order to risk your own safety to help others,” says Flaherty.

Flaherty says the tax break for search and rescue volunteers was the number 1 request from Progressive Conservative members of the caucus.

Waters says every little bit helps: “We’re a small group and not funded very well,” says Waters. “This recognizes that volunteers volunteer their personal effects as well.”