Lifespan of Greater Rochester Inc. has joined three dozen health, consumer and aging organizations in a bid to include a middle-class tax credit for family caregivers in the next state budget proposal.
Some 36 groups cosigned a letter to Gov. Andrew Cuomo this month asking him to provide financial relief to family caregivers, who they say spend nearly $7,000 to care for loved ones. Family caregivers provide $32 billion in unpaid care each year in New York State, the letter states.
A 2018 survey shows that 84 percent of New Yorkers over age 40 support a caregiver tax credit.
While the average caregiver spends 20 percent of her income on caregiving, the burden is higher for caregivers of color, according to the letter. Hispanic caregivers spend 44 percent of their income, while African Americans spend 34 percent of their income on family caregiving.
More than three-quarters of family caregivers incur out-of-pocket costs as a result of caregiving, according to a national AARP survey, and long-distance family caregivers had the highest costs at nearly $12,000. In New York, nearly 2.6 million family caregivers provide 2.4 billion hours of unpaid care.
“The rising cost of health care, the limitations of Medicare and other insurance coverage, the increased number of years that caregivers are providing care and improved longevity have all put pressure on caregivers to dip into their own finances to help pay for various elements of care,” the letter states.
Joining AARP New York and Lifespan of Greater Rochester in calling on Albany to take action are Rochester’s Catholic Family Center, the Association on Aging in New York, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, New York Urban League, the National Multiple Sclerosis Society and others.
The groups are urging Cuomo to adopt or model a credit on a bill sponsored by the state legislature’s Aging Committee Chairs, Sen. Rachel May and Assemblyman Harry Bronson. Under the bill (S51000/A7209), individuals with a gross annual income of $75,000 or less and couples with a gross annual income of $150,000 or less could claim a credit up to $3,500, or half of eligible expenses.
“This modest but well-deserved tax break for middle-class New Yorkers would be a commonsense step to help family caregivers carry on with their invaluable responsibilities,” the letter states. “At the same time, this proposal would help all New Yorkers by helping to keep loved ones out of more costly nursing homes, saving taxpayer dollars.”