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Maine Considering Tax Credit for Family Caregivers

According to AARP Maine, nearly 180-thousand people care for a family member, about 13% of the state's population. (Sabine van Erp/Pixabay)
According to AARP Maine, nearly 180-thousand people care for a family member, about 13% of the state's population. (Sabine van Erp/Pixabay)
February 6, 2020

AUGUSTA, Maine -- A bill that would provide a tax credit for family caregivers in Maine is getting a public hearing Thursday at the State House.

The bill, HP 1367, is supposed to help low and moderate income earners providing at least 150 hours of caregiving a year to a loved one.

Rep. Kristen Cloutier is the bill's main sponsor. This issue also hits close to home -- Cloutier helped take care of her mother, who was diagnosed with Alzheimer's.

"It was everything from bathing and feeding and caretaking," she relates. "I mean, when someone gets to be in the later stages of Alzheimer's, they forget how to swallow and how to eat. So I just have personal experience with being a family caregiver and just knowing that work is typically not compensated."

The family caregiver tax credit would be up to $2,000. A similar bill went to the Maine Legislature in 2017, but did not pass.

The public hearing for the family caregiver tax credit bill is to start at 1 p.m. before the committee on taxation.

Cloutier notes that a family caregiving bill passed in the first half of the legislative session, but that it only provided reimbursement for spouses.

She says one challenge in getting her bill passed will be figuring out how much it will cost.

"Trying to determine how many folks might take advantage of the credit, how many caregivers we have right now," Cloutier states. "So I think that the numbers that we have available to us don't necessarily limit it to an adult population. So it would cover parents who are caring for younger children as well, so disabled kids."

Cloutier says supporters are referring to the bill as the Rep. Ann E. Peoples Family Caregiver Credit, after the late lawmaker who passed away in November.

Peoples provided care for her husband Patrick throughout her term of service, often bringing him to the State House.

Laura Rosbrow-Telem, Public News Service - ME