In May, lawmakers in Washington, D.C., introduced the Home Modification for Accessibility Act to enhance Americans’ efforts to age in place. If this House of Representatives bill passes, it could have a tremendous impact on people with mobility concerns. For example, stair lifts that help folks navigate staircases could become a lot more affordable and accessible.
Keep reading to learn more about this significant legislation!
Tax Incentives for Home Safety and Accessibility Modifications
The main feature of the bill is that it allows tax deductions of up to $30,000 for certain home safety and accessibility upgrades. Seniors would have two windows in which to use the benefit. The first would be before they reach age 59.5. In this case, they can use retirement funds with no penalty for the upgrades and qualify for the tax deduction. After age 59.5, any money left over can go toward additional upgrades.
Another advantage of the bill is that it is a tax deduction, not a tax credit. A similar bill, the Senior Accessible Housing Act, introduced in 2021, featured tax credits, which are more costly. These are the bill’s major advantages in a nutshell:
- Making aging in place more affordable for seniors
- Encouraging proactive upgrades that keep seniors healthier longer
- Reducing spending on all sides (seniors, families, Medicaid, Medicare, etc.)
- Keeping seniors independent at home for longer
- Using a tax deduction vs. a tax credit
Loved ones will also worry less about seniors being at home, and overall caregiving demands are likely to lessen.
It’s worth mentioning that the bill covers primary residences only. If seniors have second homes or vacation homes, the provisions of the bill would not apply to any upgrades there.
Tax deductions reduce your taxable income, meaning that the amount used to calculate your tax bill goes down. Tax credits are subtracted from any taxes you owe, although some are refundable if your tax bill falls below zero.
An Essential Step Forward
Folks in the home-modification and home care communities call the bill a critical step forward. For one thing, it allows seniors to be proactive and prevent crises by making home upgrades before they are necessary.
Common modifications that seniors use to age in place include adding stair railings, raising countertops, widening doorways, and fixing uneven floors. However, because of financial issues, these modifications often do not get done.
The result? More falls, more spending on medical expenses all around, higher percentages of folks in assisted living and nursing homes, and more injuries, hospitalizations, and deaths. Reps. Charlie Crist, D-Fla., and Thomas Suozzi, D-N.Y., introduced the bill. During a town hall, Tony Gregg with Crist’s office remarked that Medicare and Medicaid pay about $50 billion a year in fall-related expenses.
The bill also has the potential to unite home modification companies and home care agencies even more. More-cohesive care is a good thing.
What YOU Can Do
Here’s what you can do to help the bill become law: Contact your senators and representatives. Let them know you support the bill. Explain how it has the potential to directly affect your life for the better. For instance, have you been putting off stair lifts or other upgrades? What are your specific mobility issues and concerns? When you contact legislators, it may help to refer to the bill as H.R.7676 — 117th Congress, the Home Modification for Accessibility Act.
Bills usually have a long road to travel after they are introduced. Usually, they go nowhere. This bill, though, has a lot of buzz. Stakeholders are working on building support from the Ways and Means Committee in the House of Representatives and liaising with the Senate for a companion bill. Letting your representatives know how impactful this bill could be on your life and the lives of loved ones will underline its importance and serve as encouragement to get it enacted.