Tax benefits for US firms to support employee volunteers
06 October 2005, 20:39
by Kanti Kumar

In the United States, a new legislation is being introduced in the Congress “which encourages employers to continue to pay workers who volunteer in the aftermath of a disaster”. 

The Assistance for Individuals Delivering for America Act (AID for America Act), being introduced by Congresswoman Nita Lowey, would encourage employers to continue to pay the salary of deployed volunteers by creating federal tax credits worth 50% of an employee’s salary up to $3000 per month. This proposal would apply to the disaster recovery efforts for federally designated disaster areas, including Hurricane Katrina. The credit would cover a maximum of three months and require individuals to volunteer a minimum of 40 hours per week over the course of their leave from employment.  To receive the credit, employers would be required to provide full benefits.

“Volunteers give so much of themselves to help those in need.  In the case of Hurricane Katrina and other catastrophic disasters, we need their expertise and training for weeks and months,” said Lowey.  “This legislation will help them continue to help others while also providing for their own families.”

What do you think of companies being given incentives for encouraging their employees to volunteer? If they need further incentives to allow their staff to volunteer, where does that leave the companies vis-a-vis their corporate social responsibility (CSR) and the concept of volunteering being an act of free will, for the community's benefit?

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