MADISON, WISCONSIN – The news earlier this week that Wisconsin is projected to take in $4.4 billion more than what was previously estimated in general fund tax revenue by mid-2023 should create a clear pathway for state lawmakers to include funds in the biennial state budget to provide some much-needed and well-deserved relief for the state’s nearly 600,000 unpaid family caregivers.
AARP Wisconsin says that relief should come in the form of a $500 individual income tax credit, which was included in Governor Evers’ proposed 2021-23 state budget and recommended by the Governor’s Task Force on Caregiving.
“We refer to these unpaid family caregivers as Wisconsin’s unsung heroes, as they give up countless hours of their own time and money to help their loved ones remain living in their own homes as long as possible,” said AARP Wisconsin State Director Sam Wilson.
“No one disputes the fact that family caregivers play an incredibly important role in Wisconsin’s long-term care system. Our hope is that with this week’s news about the projected boost in tax collections, our state’s commitment to supporting these caregivers can become a bipartisan vision shared by all legislators as they work to finalize the budget.”
The tax credit, which would cost Wisconsin just over $200 million, is similar to separate legislation (SB 126) previously proposed by two state Republicans, including Senator Patrick Testin and Representative Ken Skowronski.
If approved, the individual income tax credit could be used for certain expenses incurred by a family caregiver who assists a qualified family member.
“Each year, Wisconsin’s unpaid family caregivers provide about 538 million hours of care to their parents, spouses, partners, and other adult loved ones,” Wilson said. “In addition, they spend an average of $7,000 per year on out-of-pocket costs related to caregiving. They provide this care while also keeping up with their own jobs, running their own households and trying to make ends meet.
“We at AARP believe that making this small investment in caregivers right now will lead to much better care for families down the road,” Wilson said. “It’s high time we step up our game and do more to assist these heroes. We hope lawmakers clearly understand that this is an important first step to providing this critical support.”