Month: December 2017

Two Percent Money – Lawful and For a Good Cause

There has been a lot of publicity lately about the money flowing into volunteer fire departments and benevolent associations from the foreign fire insurance tax, known as “Two Percent Money.” The Journal News, for example, published a “tax watch” article (10/8/2017, page 1), which focused on the enormous sums coming in, and the sometimes extravagant parties funded by those revenues. It is true that some departments have used the Two Percent Money in ways which are of questionable value to the community they protect. However, the majority of departments which receive the money, and the vast majority of expenses which are paid for by Two Percent Money, are lawful, ethical and appropriate for operation of a volunteer fire department, including retention of members. Where the money comes from: the New York State Insurance Law imposes a 2% tax on all non-New York fire insurance companies which insure real property in New York. The tax is paid to the State and distributed annually to fire departments or, if they have them, to their benevolent associations (this article focuses only on fire departments; the rules for benevolents is different). A small portion of the money is diverted to fund the Fireman’s Home on Hudson. On what can you use your Two Percent Money? For a fire department, on pretty much anything which the members determine to be for the use and...

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Protecting the Department’s Logo

Every fire department is particularly proud of its distinctive logo. The department puts the logo on its apparatus, social media sites, and members’ apparel, and some of the apparel is sold to and worn by non-members who appreciate the connection to the department. It should be as protective as it is proud. Because occasionally, use of the logo outside the department becomes a problem. Like the time the Albuquerque Fire Department’s engine, with logo conspicuously displayed, was used in a pornographic photo shoot (the logo was blurred out by the original publisher only after the photo was distributed to...

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