SAR volunteers get tax break … maybe

The recent federal budget announcement may yield tax breaks for Search and Rescue volunteers who accumulate over 200 hours.

  • Feb. 17, 2014 6:00 p.m.

There was one piece of news in the recent federal budget announcement that caught the attention of local Search and Rescue (SAR) groups but it’s still too soon to tell if it’s good news or not.

“We received an email from Emergency B.C. that gave some indication of the tax break for SAR volunteers,” said Graham Jones, a director with the Rossland SAR. “We could receive up to a $450 tax credit for SAR members who accumulate 200 hours of volunteer time rescuing people.”

Although Jones expressed satisfaction that it was nice to have any kind of recognition from the federal government for SAR groups, they’d have to wait for clarification before there was any decision to celebrate.

“The wording seemed to indicate we would only get credit for rescue activity only,” said Jones. “For all areas except possibly North Shore SAR, 200 hours would be fairly unreachable in a year.

“Within SAR policy we limit members time on a search to four to six hours at a time and then people come out. If you’re tired you’re more prone to injury and accident so we have to limit the amount of time actually on search duties. If they say that volunteer hours put in for training and practice can be included then it’s attainable.”

If it is possible for volunteers to obtain a small tax break Jones said it would definitely be nice but that no SAR member would go into the field in search of financial gain.

“It would be a bonus but you sign on as a volunteer, you can’t be in it for the money,” he said. “We get compensated for expenses, for equipment replacement or to help out with travel or training but it’s definitely not a money maker.

“I think we’ll probably have to wait for information from the provincial emergency management.”

said Jones. “A number of people in upper management of the Provincial Emergency Program will be working on getting clarification and then word will filter down through to the various SAR groups in the area.”