TRENTON – The Assembly Women and Children Committee released a bill, along party lines, that would provide a tax credit to caregivers of elderly family members.
The bill, A3404, formally known as the Caregivers Assistance Act, would provide a tax credit to qualified caregivers and would be capped at $675.
Assemblywoman Pamela Lampitt (D-6) of Voorhees, a sponsor of the bill, said the credit will go right back into the economy because the recipients will use it to buy care products for their loved ones, such as incontinence supplies and diapers, from a local drugstore.
“It’s not going to go toward a vacation,” she said. “They’re going to put it back in New Jersey.”
She described the $675 tax credit cap as “nominal,” especially when compared to the actual cost of providing care.
According to the bill, tax credits can be received for purchasing things 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 (helping) devices. “
“This is just trying to offset the cost.”
Dena Mottola Jaborska of New Jersey Citizen Action says the bill underscores the value of the care being provided.
“While it’s a modest step, it’s an important step,” she said.
Assemblyman Gary Schaer (D-33) of Passaic, a co-sponsor, asked if the credit would be enough to make a difference.
“It seems to me so very modest,” she said. “Is that going to help?”
Mottola said “it’s a start” give that “it’s a tight budget year.”
Schaer responded, “I don’t remember when we didn’t have a tight budget year,” he said. “The question becomes priorities.”
But Assemblywoman Betty Lou DeCroce (R-26), who abstained, said while she would like to support the bill, she needed to see more details about the financial impact the bill would have. She would like to see greater research be done to see if it could be expanded and “make it of greater assistance to families.”
“Has it been established where the money is going to come from,” she said. “I don’t want to see the bill put up for failure.”
Assemblywoman Caroline Casagrande (R-14) of Colts Neck, echoed DeCroce’s sentiments, saying that the state cannot continue to budget the way it has been, especially in the wake of Superstorm Sandy, which she said caused $37 billion of damage.
“I don’t think it’s doing right by our citizens,” said Casgrande, who abstained as well.
But Schaer angrily pointed out the Republicans were quick to vote for a higher education bill that had no fiscal note attached it.
“Let’s not let the rhetoric of our ideologies get in the way,” he said.
The current fiscal impact is currently estimated at about $60 million, Lampitt said.
Schaer said the bill is a good starting point, saying it could lead to immediate savings.
“We need to start now…it’s a first step.”
The assemblyman said there will be less services at nursing homes and adult day care, since more people would be taken care of at home, which would ultimately mean savings for the state.
“Sometimes we need to spend money in order to make money,” Schaer said.
Lampitt said the bill could provide some financial relief.
“If we’re able to give them a little relief, it may relieve distress for even a little bit.”
The bill provides that to be allowed a credit qualified caregivers who pay or incur qualified care expenses must have gross income that does not exceed an annual income limitation. The bill specifies that qualified caregivers must have gross income that does not exceed $100,000, or does not exceed $50,000 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.