En español | Some of America's 48 million family caregivers would get much-needed financial assistance under the Credit for Caring Act, introduced on May 18 in the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives. The bipartisan bill would provide an up to $5,000 federal tax credit for eligible working family caregivers — which could help defray the nearly $7,000 that many families spend each year in out-of-pocket caring costs.
"America's nearly 48 million family caregivers are the unrecognized backbone of the long-term care system,” said Nancy LeaMond, AARP executive vice president and chief advocacy and engagement officer. “Family caregiving can be overwhelming, exhausting and a major financial challenge. That's why AARP is fighting to make life a little bit easier for unpaid family caregivers and ease their financial concerns. We are delighted to support the bipartisan Credit for Caring Act, which will help put a little money back in the pockets of caregivers who spend in the service to their loved ones."
Family caregivers are providing $470 billion in unpaid care each year — doing everything from helping prepare meals and paying bills to assisting with medication and general activities of daily living — most often so that their parents, spouses, and other loved ones can continue to live independently in their homes and communities. A whopping 61 percent of these caregivers do all of this while also holding down a job.
The bill's new, nonrefundable federal tax credit would give eligible family caregivers who work a 30 percent credit for qualified expenses they paid or incurred above $2,000. The credit could help offset the costs of services like home care aides, adult day care and respite care as well as home modifications like ramps and smart-home technology that make caregiving at home safer and easier.
The bill is sponsored in the Senate by Sens. Joni Ernst (R-Iowa), Michael Bennet (D-Colo.), Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.) and Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), and in the House by Rep. Linda Sánchez (D-Calif.).
The Credit for Caring Act has already garnered strong support from many organizations, including the Alzheimer's Association, the National Association of Area Agencies on Aging (n4a), the Elizabeth Dole Foundation, and Walgreens. The act also has support from 36 military and veterans’ groups, including the Elizabeth Dole Foundation.
The legislation may not only help individual caregivers make ends meet, but it could also boost the economy, according to an AARP analysis that found that if 50-plus caregivers have more support in the workplace, the U.S. gross domestic product could grow by an additional $1.7 trillion (5.5 percent) by 2030.
Editor's note: This article was originally published on May 18, 2021. It has been updated with new information about the organizations supporting the bill.
Nancy Kerr joined AARP in 2016. She is the senior writer and editor of features content for the family caregiving and beauty and style sections of aarp.org. Before joining the organization, she was the editor of special projects for USA Today; a senior editor for the USA Weekend magazine; an assistant managing editor of digital content at The Washington Post and the director of women’s programming at America Online.