NORCROSS/WEINBERG/LESNIAK BILL PROVIDING TAX CREDITS TO RESIDENTS CARING FOR AN AGING FAMILY MEMBER ADVANCES

Senator Norcross addresses the Senate after being sworn-in to represent the 5th Legislative District.

Would Provide Caregivers Maximum Annual Credit of $675

TRENTONLegislation sponsored by Senator Donald Norcross, Senate Majority Leader Loretta Weinberg and Senator Raymond Lesniak to provide financial assistance to state residents who provide informal, uncompensated care and support to elderly relatives was approved today by the Senate Health, Human Services and Senior Citizens Committee.

“Family caregivers are so important to the health and wellbeing of our aging residents, as they provide emotional, financial and in some cases medical support to those in their care. But they are also vital to the strength of the state’s health care and long-term care systems, helping to reduce the financial burden on these critical networks,” said Senator Norcross, D-Camden and Gloucester. “Providing tax relief to those who have taken on this incredible responsibility is a way to recognize the contribution they make to the state and to relieve some of the cost they bear in providing in-home care.”

“While many people prefer to care for a loved one who is aging at home, and do so willingly, there is undoubtedly an emotional and financial toll on the caregiver that often goes unnoticed,” said Senator Weinberg, D-Bergen. “Providing a small measure of relief to those who sacrifice so much to take care of an aging family member is the right thing to do. Moreover, it will help caregivers with the cost of medication, health equipment or supplies that are necessary to keep their loved one healthy and comfortable, and in the community longer.”

“Supporting home care is a smart and compassionate way to help those in need of medical care to stay in their homes with their families and remain in their communities with their friends and neighbors,” said Senator Lesniak, D-Union. “This financial support can help make a difference for families who want to provide the care and support needed by a parent, grandparent or other family member.  A family home is usually better than a nursing home.”

More than 1.75 million people in New Jersey provided unpaid caregiving in 2009, according to the AARP Public Policy Institute, a value of $13.2 billion. Almost two-thirds of family caregivers are female. The bill (S-841) would provide a gross income tax credit to qualified caregivers who pay or incur qualified care expenses for the care and support of a qualifying senior family member residing with the caregiver at the caregiver’s permanent place of residence. Specifically, the bill would offer a refundable tax credit equal to 22.5 percent of up to $3,000 qualified care expenses incurred in a taxable year, with a maximum tax credit of $675.   In order to qualify for the credit, a qualified caregiver would be required to have gross income that does not exceed $100,000, or does not exceed $50,000 if the individual elects to file separately, is unmarried, not a partner in a civil union or domestic partnership, or not filing or eligible to file as head of household or as a surviving spouse for federal income tax purposes. 

“Qualified care expenses” would include expenses paid or incurred by a qualified caregiver for the purchase, lease, or rental of home health agency services, adult day care, companionship services, personal care attendant services, homemaker services, respite care, health care equipment and supplies, home modification services, services necessary to provide care and support to a qualifying senior family member in connection with two or more daily living activities, or assistive devices.

The bill would define a qualifying senior family member as an individual who is 60 years of age or older and a relative of the qualified caregiver; resides with the qualified caregiver at the qualified caregiver’s permanent place of residence in this State for not less than six months of the taxable year, and; has gross income for the taxable year not in excess of $20,000, or not in excess of $13,000 if married or a civil union partner filing separately or if unmarried, not a partner in a civil union, and not filing or eligible to file as head of household or as a surviving spouse for federal income tax purposes.

The committee approved the bill by a vote of 6-0. It now heads to the Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee for consideration.