Politics

Caregivers Tax Credit Bill Introduced in Congress

A bill that would offer up to a $5,000 tax credit for family caregivers has been introduced in both chambers of the U.S. Congress.

The Credit for Caring Act of 2021 has been authored in the House by Rep. Loretta Sanchez (D-Calif.) and in the Senate by Joni Ernst (R-Iowa) and co-sponsored by Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Michael Bennet (D-Colo.) and Shelly Capito (R-W.Va.). The bill would give eligible family caregivers a 30% tax credit for qualified expenses above $2,000.

The credit could be utilized to offset the cost of services such as home care aides, adult day care and respite care — paying for others to care for relatives – in addition to modifications such as ramps and smart technology designed to make caregiving easier and safer at home.

“As the daughter of two parents diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease, I know the responsibility placed on family caregivers in similar situations across the country—and I know the personal sacrifices they make every day,” Sanchez said in a statement.

“Especially during this pandemic, caregivers have been asked to juggle working from home and caring for a loved one, all while managing the financial responsibility associated with caregiving. The Credit for Caring Act will help alleviate some of that burden by providing a tax credit for services such as home care and adult day care. I am proud to work with colleagues on both sides of the aisle to find solutions for so many who need all the help they can get.”

Sanchez’s dilemma as a working adult dealing with elderly, dependent parents has become a way of life for an estimated 48 million Americans, according to data from the American Association of Retired Persons. In the District, the AARP-D.C. Chapter reported more than 75,000 residents are unpaid caregivers. Various studies have revealed unpaid caregivers often have to sacrifice work hours or forgo employment to care for elderly relatives, with the result of lost wages and income. Putting relatives in nursing facilities often won’t work with an unpaid caregiver’s budget.

According to Genworth’s Cost of Care Survey published in the June 22, 2021 edition of Seniorliving.org, nationally, a private room in a nursing home costs $290 per day or $8,821 per month and semi-private rooms average $255 per day or $7,756 per month. In the District, the Genworth survey reported a semi-private room in a nursing home costs about $12,741 per month and a private room, $14,357. The District offers some assistance with the District of Columbia Caregiver Institute reporting a flex account exists where expenses for unpaid caregivers can be reimbursed for up to $150 a month for such services as respite care.

Additionally, an AARP analysis reveals that supporting unpaid caregivers could boost the national economy in the long term. The analysis reported assisting caregivers 50 and older in the workplace could grow the U.S. gross domestic product by $1.7 trillion in 2030.

Nancy LeaMond, AARP executive vice president and chief advocacy and engagement officer, backs the legislation.

LOCAL SUPPORT FOR THE BILL

“Family caregivers are the backbone of the long-term care system,” she said. “That’s why AARP is fighting to make life a little bit easier for unpaid caregivers and ease their financial concerns.”

D.C. Councilmember Anita Bonds (D-At Large) serves as an advocate for senior citizens among her colleagues. Bonds said she knows about the bill.

“I know that on Capitol Hill the bill has been introduced and is making its way through the system,” Bonds said. “I think it is a great idea to give a tax credit to caregivers because they really need it. Here in D.C., there are seniors who are taking care of seniors and that tax credit could definitely come in handy.”

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