Gilchrist implores Michigan lawmakers to consider caregiver tax credit

(Anna Liz Nichols/Michigan Advance)

By Michigan Advance

May 22, 2024

BY ANNA LIZ NICHOLS, MICHIGAN ADVANCE

MICHIGAN—As the Legislature hammers out the details of the Fiscal Year 2025 budget this summer, Lt. Gov. Garlin Gilchrist is urging lawmakers to include tax credits for caregivers.

The Caring for MI Family Tax Credit is one of the proposals under Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s recommendations for the state’s next budget and would afford caregivers tax relief of up to $5,000. But neither the House nor Senate have included the plan in the first budget bills they have passed.

“I expect that item to be part of ongoing budget discussions,” said Amber McCann, spokesperson for House Speaker Joe Tate (D-Detroit).

Caregiving is costly, not just financially, but emotionally, Gilchrist said at a media conference alongside AARP volunteers in Lansing on Tuesday afternoon. It’s not something that individuals often decide to do, but rather something they have to do because a loved one needs care.

“That work is almost always uncompensated. … It is not always visible in policy in terms of how we respond to the needs of caregivers, things that caregiving requires so that people can do it,” Gilchrist said. “Caregivers are a critical infrastructure to life, to success, to wellbeing, to stability, and we need to make sure that they are really supported.”

There are about 1.7 million unpaid caregivers currently in Michigan, said Paula Cunningham, state director of AARP Michigan. That equals out to approximately $19.6 billion annually in uncompensated care.

“These are people who care for their loved ones and use their own dollars for out of pocket expenses, grandparents taking care of grandchildren, aunts, uncles, sisters, brothers, mothers daughter taking care of those who they love,” Cunningham said. “They don’t do this for the money, they do it because of their commitment to their family members and … their loved ones.”

Both the House and Senate have passed first versions of the budget this month that will have to be negotiated over the summer in order to send a finished product to Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s desk for final approval. The Legislature has a July 1 deadline, but there’s no penalty if they miss it.

The FY 2025 budget year begins Oct. 1.

The hope now is to impress upon legislators the needs that exist for folks around the state of Michigan to receive financial relief for the work of caregiving, Gilchrist said after the media conference. If the policy needs to change in order to get compensation to caregivers, the governor’s office is open to talk with lawmakers.

“There’s always opportunity to improve policy and so that’s a conversation we’re ready to have about what the policy can look like,” Gilchrist said.

READ MORE: 5 things you need to know from Whitmer’s State of the State address

This coverage was republished from Michigan Advance pursuant to a Creative Commons license.

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