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Siena NY Poll Finds Democrats, Republicans, Independents All Agree: Tax Credit Needed for Family Caregivers

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AARP Urges State to Enact Tax Credit as Part of 2019-20 Budget

Voters may be divided as the midterm elections showed, but there’s one idea New York’s Democrats, Republicans and Independents agree on: the need for a state caregiver tax credit.

A statewide Siena College Research Institute poll found 90 percent of likely voters support such a tax credit, which would help unpaid middle class family caregivers offset nearly $7,000 in average caregiving expenses they pay out of their own pockets each year.

Support cut across all demographics; Siena asked 641 likely New York voters from Oct. 28 through Nov. 1, “How strongly do you support or oppose providing an income tax credit to family caregivers who incur expenses for the care and support of an older family member living with them?” Voicing support were:

  • Democrats (94%), Republicans (90%) and independent voters (88%).
  • Liberals (95%), moderates (93%) and conservatives (87%).
  • Upstaters (92%), suburbanites (91%) and New York City voters (89%).
  • Whites (92%), Latinos (90%) and African Americans (86%).
  • Voters 35 and older (91%) and voters 18 to 34 (89%.
  • Voters making over $100,000 a year (93%) and voters making under $100,000 (91%).

AARP is urging Governor Andrew Cuomo to include a tax credit for 50% of qualifying expenses, up to $3,500, per family caregiver in the state budget proposal he submits early next year. The tax credit would be available to New Yorkers filing individually with gross incomes up to $75,000 and for couples with gross incomes up to $150,000.

“Virtually all New Yorkers agree that middle class family caregivers should get a tax credit to help offset the caregiving expenses they pay out of their own pockets,” said AARP New York State Director Beth Finkel. “This is not only the right thing to do, but it could save taxpayers money in the long run by helping caregivers keep their loved ones at home rather than moving them to much costlier and taxpayer-funded nursing homes. This is especially important as our population ages, leaving fewer caregivers to care for more frail elderly.”

Expenses qualifying for the tax credit would include home health agency services, adult day care, personal care attendant services, homemaker services, respite care, health care equipment, home modifications and transportation provided to an adult family member who needs assistance with at least one activity of daily living such as feeding, bathing or dressing as certified by a licensed health professional.

November is National Family Caregivers Month. The tax credit would be a wise investment for New York’s nearly 2.6 million family caregivers, who provide unpaid care valued at $31.3 billion annually across the state.

A tax credit could especially help Hispanic/Latino family caregivers, who spend 44% of their annual income on average, and African-American caregivers, who spend 34%. The proposed tax credit was among key recommendations in a new AARP NY_Family Caregiving Whitepaper_finalpages (2) from AARP resulting from a statewide summit on family caregiving.

The Siena poll has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.9 percent.

AARP will also urge the Governor and state lawmakers to increase cost-effective funding for in-home services for middle class elderly by $25 million to keep pace with need.

Non-Medicaid services such as transportation to doctor’s appointments, home-delivered meals and assistance with daily activities support middle class family caregivers in helping older New Yorkers age at home – as the vast majority want.

And as the number of potential caregivers dwindles while the population of those requiring care swells, the need for in-home services and tax credits will only increase.

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