Investing in Unpaid Caregivers
MASSPIRG urges legislative committee to recognize the value of the work of family caregivers by allowing them to qualify for the Earned Income Tax Credit, H.2871/S1841 An Act to increase family stabilization through the earned income tax credit filed by Rep. Marjorie Decker and Sen. Sal DiDomenico, to support the unpaid contributions of Americans caring for a loved one.
To: Chairman Adam Hinds and Chairman Mark Cusack and
Members of the Joint Committee on Revenue
FR: Deirdre Cummings, MASSPIRG Legislative Director
Tuesday December 14, 2021
Testimony in favor of H.2871/S.1841, An Act to increase family stabilization through the earned income tax credit
I write to urge this committee to recognize the value of the work of family caregivers by allowing them to qualify for the Earned Income Tax Credit. I hope this committee will approve H.2871/S1841 An Act to increase family stabilization through the earned income tax credit filed by Rep. Marjorie Decker and Sen. Sal DiDomenico, to support the unpaid contributions of Americans caring for a loved one. Investing in caregivers can improve the wellbeing of all Bay Staters, not only those currently providing or receiving care. All of us needed a caregiver at one point in our lives, some of us need care every day, and many of us will need care in the future. The contributions family caregivers make, from preparing meals to driving loved ones to doctors’ appointments, are some of the most important contributions anyone can make to the quality of life in their communities. This committee could help secure a better future by valuing caregiving as real work.
To any parent who has juggled watching their children during the lockdown with their best attempt to work from home, it is clear that caregiving is real work. To anyone who has woken up in the middle of the night worried about whether their aging loved one with disabilities is safe, it is obvious that providing care is one of the most important things we can do.
People who care for each other is one way to describe a family. Our entire society depends on caregivers. It benefits all of us when it is possible for people to care for their loved ones who need care. Despite the obvious importance of caregiving, we have failed to recognize caregiving as real work and failed to support the contributions of caregivers with policy. Our need for caregivers demands that we value their contributions.
As AARP and the National Alliance for Caregiving recently found, more than one in five Americans is a family caregiver. More than 50 million Americans provided care to a loved one at some point in the 12 months before the pandemic. These caregiving needs are on pace to grow as America ages. Massachusetts is already older than most of America and is projected to grow older faster. The proportion of Bay Staters over the age of 65 is projected to grow from 18% in 2020 to 23% by 2035. Before the pandemic, approximately one in five Americans needing help with “activities of daily living” had unmet needs.
The disruption of our normal routines during the pandemic highlighted an absurdity of how we define work and devalue family caregiving. When a teacher or a daycare center worker looks out for a child, we recognize that work is worth investment. Yet, when a family member provides care, government policy usually treats that caregiving like it has no value.
Family caregivers have been excluded from the Earned Income Tax Credit under the reasoning that policy should encourage people to enter the workforce and make the country more prosperous. The safety measures taken during the pandemic have revealed that Americans recognize there are more important things than increasing the amount of production in the economy at all costs. Doing what is necessary to keep each other safe and healthy takes precedence over producing more things. Any true measurement of our prosperity as a country must include whether people are afforded the basic dignity of the time and attention of their loved ones.
H.2871/S.1841 is a step toward allowing people to keep their loved ones safe and healthy.
Investing in family caregivers now is a necessary preparation for demographic trends, an urgently needed response to the caregiving challenges highlighted by the pandemic, and a down-payment on a better society.
 AARP, Caregiving in the United States 2020, 14 May 2020 https://www.aarp.org/ppi/info-2020/caregiving-in-the-united-states.html.
 Henry Renski et al., UMass Donahue Institute, Long-term Population Projections for Massachusetts Regions and Municipalities, March 2015.
 National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine, Families caring for an aging America, DOI: 10.17226/23606, 2016.
Huiping Xu et al., “ Insufficient Help for Activity of Daily Living Disabilities and Risk of All‐Cause Hospitalization,” Journal of the American Geriatrics Society, 60 (5): 927-933, DOI
Mitchell P. LaPlante et al., “Unmet Need for Personal Assistance Services: Estimating the Shortfall in Hours of Help and Adverse Consequences,” The Journals of Gerontology: Series B, 59 (2): 98-108, DOI https://doi.org/10.1093/geronb/59.2.S98, 01 March 2004.