MADISON, WISCONSIN – Wisconsin’s nearly 600,000 unpaid family caregivers – a group that AARP WI refers to as the state’s unsung heroes for giving up so much of their own time and money to help loved ones remain in their own homes as long as possible – will receive much-needed support if state legislators get behind the governor’s plan to create a $500 family caregiver tax credit.
Last week Governor Evers announced a proposal to spend parts of the $3.8 billion projected state surplus to create a nonrefundable caregiver tax credit for qualified expenses incurred by a family caregiver to assist a qualified family member. The bill is being circulated for co-sponsorship. AARP Wisconsin is urging all Wisconsinites to contact their legislators and encourage them to support the creation of the tax credit.
“Family caregivers are the lifeblood of Wisconsin’s long-term care system and it is high time we not only recognize this fact but provide them with the support they need to continue this heroic work,” said AARP WI State Issues Advocacy Director Helen Marks Dicks said. “Many state lawmakers say they understand and appreciate all the tasks that family caregivers perform on a daily basis. Now it’s time for them to put money where their mouths are.”
The tax credit was recommended by the Governor’s Task Force on Caregiving and was included in Gov. Evers’ last budget proposal before being removed. Dicks, who was a member of the task force, said caregiving is an issue that impacts nearly everyone at some point in their lives. In the last two legislative sessions, bills creating a caregiver tax credit were circulated by Republican lawmakers for co-sponsorship and received bipartisan support.
“Each year, Wisconsin’s unpaid family caregivers provide about 538 million hours of care to their parents, spouses, partners, and other adult loved ones. 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,” Dicks said.
Unpaid family caregivers take on huge responsibilities that can be overwhelming, stressful and exhausting. They help loved ones with tasks such as giving baths, dispensing medications, preparing meals, paying bills, and providing transportation to doctor’s appointments. Some even provide higher levels of care, such as wound treatment, dialysis support and feeding tube maintenance. The $500 tax credit could be used to help offset some of the expenses these caregivers incur, such as installing ramps or safety bars to keep their loved ones safe.
Dicks said the tax credit would not only help caregivers, but would save the state money on long-term care by investing in caregivers and keeping older Wisconsinites at home instead of relying on state-funded programs.
“As these caregivers face physical, emotional and financial challenges, we can take this simple legislative step to help make their lives a little bit easier. Small investments in caregivers right now will lead to big savings for Wisconsin and much better care for families down the road,” Dicks said. “At some point in time we will all likely be caregivers or be the person needing care. This credit helps all ages and all generations,” Dicks said. “It’s the right thing to do.”