AARP Eye Center
AARP is fighting for America’s over 48 million family caregivers who help seniors live independently in their homes instead of being forced into nursing homes. Family caregivers need support and commonsense solutions that will save them time and money. In Massachusetts that means fighting for a family caregiving tax credit.
Every day, family caregivers advocate for and assist their older parents, spouses, siblings, grandparents and other loved ones so they can live independently and with dignity in their homes—where they want to be.
Here in the Bay State 780,000 people are caregivers. According to new state data available in AARP’s Valuing the Invaluable series, if those caregivers were paid for their work, it would be worth $15.1 Billion. (Read Value the Invaluable Report)
Family caregivers are stressed and often overwhelmed balancing the physical, emotional and financial demands required to care and advocate for their older loved one. 58% of caregivers spend over 11 hours a week providing care.
It's why AARP Massachusetts is backing bills that would provide a refundable $1500 tax credit. The Joint Committee On Health Care Financing held a public hearing Tuesday, May 16th. AARP Massachusetts testified in favor of Senate Bill No. 764 An Act To Establish The Family Caregiver Tax Credit.
“This is an ageless and nonpartisan issue. Family caregivers are the backbone of services and supports in this country. They help make it possible for older adults and people with disabilities to live independently in their homes and communities,” said Sandra Harris, State President, AARP Massachusetts.
Sandra also shared her story of caring for her elderly mother who lives with dementia. Read Sandra's testimony here.
An Act to Establish the Family Caregiving Tax Credit would create a new, refundable state tax credit of up to $1,500 for eligible family caregivers. Eligible family caregivers caring for adult loved ones could receive the credit if the care recipient meets certain functional or cognitive limitations. Family caregivers would not be required to live with the care recipient, as many family caregivers may not reside with the person they are assisting. The credit would be capped per care recipient, so family members working together to care for a loved one would split the credit depending on who had incurred expenses.
“Caregiving can take not only a physical and emotional toll; it can have a financial one as well. About half of caregivers say they have experienced financial setbacks. This may mean they have had to curtail their spending, dip into personal savings, or cut back on retirement contributions,” said Mike Festa, State Director, AARP Massachusetts.
Read Mike Festa's testimony here.
Also testifying was Yvonne Powell, an AARP member from The Franklin Park Grove Hill Chapter. She spoke about the care she and her family were able to provide her mother at the end of her life.
She believes the tax credit would help other families and send a message.
"The proposed caregiving tax credit signals that the Commonwealth values at home caregiving for those whose bodies are captive to physical pain and infirmity. I urge your support for this legislation," said Powell. "When compared to institutional care this credit is a valuable cost-saving measure for families and the Commonwealth."
AARP Member Nancy Stehfest testified as well. She told the joint committee about how she cares for her husband who was diagnosed with Parkinson's Disease. She explained the expenses the couple endures in order to make everyday life safer. Read her testimony here.
AARP Volunteer James Lomastro, PhD, submitted written testimony. He was a caregiver for 10 years for his parents. You can read his testimony here..
Sen. Jason M. Lewis (D-Winchester) sponsored the bill.
AARP Massachusetts also testified before Massachusetts Joint Committee on Revenue Tuesday June 6th. AARP Massachusetts State Director Mike Festa testified as did AARP volunteers Nancy Stehfest and Yvonne Powell.
House Bill 2932 would provide family caregivers with an income tax credit to cover expenses incurred by a taxpayer for the care and support of a qualifying family member. The refundable $1500 tax credit would help address the financial challenges of caregiving and allow more unpaid family caregivers to keep their family members at home or in the community.
“As a state we should support family caregivers as they take on the costs and responsibilities associated with caregiving.” Said Mike Festa, State Director, AARP Massachusetts. “A family caregiver tax credit is one way to help address these financial burdens and ensure that caregivers can keep their loved ones living in their homes and communities.” To read Mike’s testimony, Click Here
AARP is also backing Senate Bill No. 808 – An Act Relative to Spouses as Caregivers. The bill would pay spouses for the work they’re doing caring for their loved ones. As Americans continue to live longer, family members are providing ever more complex care at home, often for longer periods of time. A family caregiver’s responsibility to provide that high level of care can make it difficult or even impossible for them to maintain another job. Therefore, paying spouses as caregivers answers multiple needs:
- The person who needs care can age at home, which is the preference for the vast majority of people.
- The family caregiver earns modest income, mitigating the impact of lost job hours.
- It is a lifeline to families who cannot otherwise afford to care for their family member.
- Costs are kept lower. One analysis found the average monthly cost for self-directed care was $1,774 in 2019, compared to $6,175 for a semi-private nursing home room.
- Costly institutionalization is delayed or avoided entirely.
Other state Medicaid agencies have lifted some restrictions and allowed more family members to be hired and paid as caregivers. AARP believes the Commonwealth should do the same. Family caregiving already serves a critical role in mitigating the growing strain on the long-term services and supports system, in part by expanding the caregiver pool.
AARP sent a letter backing the legislation you can read that here.
Senate Minority Leader Bruce E. Tarr (R-Gloucester) sponsored the bill.
If you are caring for an older loved one, AARP has resources that can help. You can find the tools and information at aarp.org/caregiving.
If you would like to help us with caregiving legislation send us an email firstname.lastname@example.org.