Office Information 
Lehigh Office 
Lower Macungie Township Administration Building
3402 Brookside Road
Macungie, PA 18062
Monday - Friday 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Phone: (610) 965-9933
Fax: (610) 965-9174

Berks Satellite Office 
Topton Borough Hall
205 S Callowhill St.
Topton, PA 19562
Wednesdays 9:30 a.m. to noon
*Walk-ins only. No mail, please.

Capitol Office
160A East Wing
Harrisburg, PA 17120-2134
Phone: (717) 787-1000
Fax: (717) 782-2893
Volunteer Fire and Volunteer Emergency Medical Services Companies Set to Receive Relief from Taxes

On July 9, the governor signed into law a bill I authored to exempt volunteer fire, volunteer emergency medical services and volunteer rescue companies in Pennsylvania from realty transfer taxes.  The measure, House Bill 465, was part of a broad-based tax reform package that I sponsored and was passed with the state budget.

Under the old law, the Commonwealth was charging these volunteer organizations one percent on the value of the real estate being transferred by deed, instrument, long-term lease or other writing. Both the grantor and grantee were being held jointly liable for payment of this tax.  Furthermore, counties were also given the ability to levy yet additional local realty transfer taxes.

With budgets for many of these organizations already strained, the realty transfer tax had become an enormous burden for some of the volunteer entities tasked with protecting our communities during emergencies and disasters.  A prime example occurred in the Berks County portion of the district I represent when the Bally, Barto and Bechtelsville fire companies merged to form the Eastern Berks Fire Department. 

The state fire commissioner has long been encouraging volunteer fire companies to merge.  Very often, such action serves as an important step in helping increase efficiency and enhance public safety.  Response times are often improved, and modern equipment is more easily available to be shared and used over a wider area.

Unfortunately, when the inevitable transfer of property occurred to make the Eastern Berks merger possible, the new fire department experienced what many others across the Commonwealth already had:  a hefty penalty that came in the form of the taxation on the transfer of their real property.

It is important to emphasize that volunteer fire companies, volunteer emergency medical services companies and volunteer rescue companies are nonprofit organizations dedicated to serving our communities. It simply doesn’t make sense to divert dollars critical to protecting our local communities away from public safety and emergency response to Harrisburg.  That prompted me to immediately introduce legislation to remedy this punitive area of state law.

Fortunately, with the passage of House Bill 465 (now Act 52), these volunteer organizations will be exempt from the realty transfer tax when merging or consolidating, or when conducting a normal sale or acquisition of real estate.   The new law also will help organizations that have already conduced real estate transactions, as these tax changes are retroactive to November 1, 2011.

Volunteer fire, emergency medical services and rescue companies will now be afforded the same status enjoyed when family members, religious organizations and government entities transfer property between one another.   And, more importantly, resources to protect the public will remain in our local communities, doing what they should be doing: saving lives.

I want to hear from you.  Please feel free to contact me with your questions or comments about state government.  You can contact my office by mail at 1245 Chestnut St., Unit 5, Emmaus, PA 18049; by phone at (610) 965-9933; or email at

Representative Ryan Mackenzie
134th District
Pennsylvania House of Representatives
Media Contact:  Ryan Travis
717.260.6335 /
Share |