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A Tax Credit For Wisconsin's Family Caregivers?


Wisconsin News Connection is here.

MADISON, Wis. - Wisconsin lawmakers are considering a way to help more than a 500,000 Wisconsinites who give their own time and money to act as caregivers for their loved ones.

AARP Wisconsin is backing a bill to reimburse family caregivers up to $1,000 through a state income tax credit for 50 percent of their documented care giving costs. An AARP study shows 78 percent of family caregivers spend their own money to help family members or loved ones stay in their homes.

Helen Marks Dicks, AARP Wisconsin's advocacy director, says a tax credit is a tangible step to help these unpaid caregivers. "Because an incredible number of people are spending a lot of money out-of-pocket to help keep their loved ones at home when they have physical or intellectual disabilities," she states. "The average family spends close to $7,000 a year in out-of-pocket expenses."

Dicks says the Caregiver Tax Credit bill could give the hundreds of thousands of Wisconsin caregivers a financial break for caring for their loved ones. Nationwide, more than 40 million Americans serve as unpaid family caregivers. According to Dicks, the care provided by close friends and family members in Wisconsin is worth an estimated $7 billion a year, let alone their unreimbursed expenses. "This would give them a little break on their taxes," she states. "It would give them, for expenses they actually pay and can document, they can get 50 percent credit up to the value of $1,000, per loved one."

Dicks says the tax credit would also make good sense for the state. The longer people can remain in their own homes as they age, the less reliant they are on government-funded programs and long-term care services. "And right now, people are getting to stay in their homes primarily because of the support of unpaid caregivers," Dicks points out. "So, if the state doesn't help support these people, people are going to end up in institutions, and institutions are so expensive they eventually all end up on the state payroll." Dicks adds a tax credit is one step.

AARP also backs the ideas of providing respite relief and additional training to help people perform caregiving tasks.

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