Bill seeks to extend tax break for home health care

A bill submitted in Springfield seeks to extend the tax exemption on home improvements that are built to care for a family member.

House Bill 3715, filed last week by state Rep. Barbara Wheeler, R-Crystal Lake, eliminates the four-year limit on the property-tax exemption for home improvements and additions, provided they were built to care for a senior citizen or disabled person living in the home.

If approved, the homeowner could claim the exemption for as long as the individual is living in the home.

Wheeler called the idea a way to give people incentive to keep loved ones with such needs in home care and reduce the number of people entering Medicaid.

“In an ideal situation, the best care of loved ones rests with family members. It’s not always the case, but when it is, what can we do to alleviate some of the financial burden on families who choose to care for their family members?” Wheeler said.

A homeowner currently can exempt improvements from assessment for four years from the date of completion and occupancy up to the fair cash value or $75,000. Wheeler’s bill increases the maximum to $100,000.

A 2010 report by the Illinois Homecare and Hospice Council cited home health care as a way to save the cash-strapped state government money because it costs less and is preferred by most patients.

“With Illinois at its fiscal breaking point and Medicaid continuing to be an enormous driver of state spending, the state must adopt new approaches that will save money while delivering quality care,” the report stated.

About 12 million people nationwide require home health care to some extent, according to a 2010 report from the National Association for Home Care and Hospice. Almost two-thirds are women, and about 70 percent are 65 or older.

The bill is in the House Rules Committee awaiting assignment to the appropriate committees for hearings. The General Assembly is scheduled to return to regular session next January.

On the Net

You can read the text of House Bill 3715 at the General Assembly’s website at

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