'It costs us to help'
Rescue service pays tax on saving lives
ALMOST a quarter of the money raised by the Mallow Search and Rescue Unit each year goes back into the State's coffers in the form of VAT imposed on the purchase of life saving equipment.
The unit, which is run on a voluntary basis and does not receive any government funding, is forced to pay up to €10,000 per year in tax.
The chairman of the unit, John Woulfe, has called for voluntary life saving groups to be exempt from paying VAT on essential purchases.
"I find it shocking that despite the essential work we do for the state, the government cannot see its way to giving us some support by exempting us from VAT," said Mr Woulfe.
If Mallow Search and Rescue was based on the coast it could qualify for special VAT exemptions granted to rescue units that render assistance at sea. But even though more than half the calls Mallow Search and Rescue answer each year are for incidents off the coast, they still have to pay VAT because they haven't been granted Community Rescue Boats Ireland status.
"We have been called to incidents all over the country and yet still have to pay VAT on the fuel that we use to get there," said Mr Woulfe.