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Health

AARP Wisconsin urges state lawmakers to spend surplus on caregiver tax credit

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AARP wants caregivers to be a focus when it comes to surplus spending.

Last week during his State of the State address, Governor Evers reiterated his plans to spend some of Wisconsin’s projected 3-point-8 billion dollar surplus.

AARP estimates there are 600,000 unpaid family caregivers in Wisconsin.

These are typically significant others, children, or some kind of relation to a person who is unable to care entirely for themselves.

Helen Marks Dicks is the State Director for AARP Wisconsin.

She says these people usually start out providing rides or cooking meals and it evolves into more intense care.

“You don’t even think of yourself as a caregiver. You think you’re being a good daughter or a good spouse. You just start with the simple things like the grocery shopping and paying the bills and then next thing you know, because of a medical emergency, you’re knee deep in medical care,” said Marks Dicks.

AARP says family caregivers spend an average of $7,000 per year on out-of-pocket costs related to caregiving.

It would like to see some of Wisconsin’s surplus to relieve some of that burden.

AARP supports an effort to give family caregivers a $500 tax credit.

“It’s a start in the right direction. I think there’s been a lot of debate about how often it would be used and how much it would be used. It’s restricted to certain expenses but $500 is still a significant amount of money to give somebody a concrete bit of support,” said Marks Dicks. “We can evaluate the appropriateness of the amount when we see its usage and expense, but I think it’s a good place to start.”

Not all family caregivers would qualify for the tax credit.

Marks Dicks says people who receive money from programs like Family Care or long-term care insurance would not qualify for the tax credit.

“There’d be a limit on the amount of credit that can be given per person receiving the care. So if you and your brother, for instance, were caring for your mom and spending money, the total tax credit between the two of you would be $500,” she said.

She also says supporting family caregivers actually saves the state money.

“The ramification is the tax payers. If it wasn’t for the families and friends stepping up people would end up in institutions and would end up in government programs,” said Marks Dicks.

Marks Dicks says Evers pushed for a caregiver credit in his last budget, but it was removed by Republican lawmakers, even though they had supported similar funding in previous years.

AARP is urging lawmakers to support this effort.

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