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Congress Proposes Financial Relief for Family Caregivers

More than 48 million Americans help their older parents, spouses and other loved ones live independently in their homes and communities. They manage tasks big and small, from shopping for groceries and managing medications to organizing financial matters and much more. Family caregivers are holding up the broken long term care system by providing $600 billion in unpaid care for their loved ones annually.

That’s why AARP is supporting the Credit for Caring Act—legislation introduced this week by a bipartisan, bicameral group of congressional leaders aimed at providing much-needed financial relief to family caregivers. This important bill proposes a federal tax credit of up to $5,000 for eligible caregivers to help offset care expenses related to home care, home modifications, respite care, transportation, assistive technology, and more. I’m so very grateful to the bill’s lead sponsors—Senator Bennet, Senator Capito, Congresswoman Sanchez, and Congressman Carey—as well as its co-sponsors, Senators Warren, Collins, Murkowski, and Hassan.

AARP research shows that, on average, family caregivers spend over $7,200 out of their own pockets annually – or roughly 26 percent of a caregiver's income on average– helping care for their loved ones. Too often, employed family caregivers leave the workforce or reduce their hours to fulfill their caregiving duties, which can result in a loss of income, retirement savings, benefits, and career mobility.

The financial impact is particularly pronounced among Hispanic/Latino and African American/Black caregivers, who spend, on average, 47 percent and 34 percent of their income on care expenses, respectively.

The Credit for Caring Act

Passage of the Credit for Caring Act would help ease this financial strain. The bill is also a significant milestone in AARP’s fight to deliver solutions for caregivers through our advocacy efforts in the legislative and regulatory arenas, at the federal and state level, and working with policymakers from across the political spectrum.

In 2014, the topic of family caregiving was not on the map, politically, commercially, or culturally. Since then, we’ve notched more than a thousand advocacy victories for caregivers in 53 states and U.S. territories. The Credit for Caring Act demonstrates that lawmakers from both sides of the aisle can agree on a commonsense policy which could make the lives of millions of caregivers a little bit easier. The bill is popular with voters, too. According to recent polling, 76% of registered voters aged 50 and older would be more likely to support a candidate who supports a tax credit for family caregivers.

The introduction of the Credit for Caring Act is a big step towards acknowledging the financial, physical and emotional challenges facing caregivers—and doing something about it.

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