Readers of this blog have different occupation. When certain people contacted me to write about caregivers, I thought about it for a while and decided to go for it. Caregiving is something we all do but, we never spend the time to think about the other advantages like tax deductions. This post is all about how to be a better caregiver and then benefiting from it as well, apart from helping people in need, the primary objective of caregiving.
In my life I have seen a good amount of caregivers, there is one helping my parents back home. I have seen caregivers who go above and beyond to perform their duty. This is a tough and demanding task to be a good caregiver. If you aspire to be one, make sure not to commit these mistakes and follow the good practices.
Things to avoid as caregiver
When someone in your family falls sick, persons nearby turn into caregiver, often they get compensation. Do not just look for the compensation alone rather become a good helper. When the primary caregiver has to take a break and you are the one to step in, understand the previous one’s practices well.
Pay close attention to details like dietary restriction, exercise regimen. Do not let off or relax the norms and habits of the receiver.
For example, if your sister who was taking care of your mom takes a break and you step in to give care, do not let your mother deviate from earlier food and diet restrictions. Do not offer her food that is not good for her. This may not cause harm in short-term but may change her anticipation and expectation in the longer term. And, when your sister comes back in, she may have hard time re-convincing your mother follow the previous restrictions and discipline. This will do her more harm than good. You sister will end up working harder.
The Do’s of a good caregiver
- Enjoy the role helping others should be a fun rather than burden
- Enjoy conversation with the person you are caring for, understand the person, helping him/her will be a lot easier.
- When faced with unkind or rude behavior, just ignore and stick to your principles.
- Take care of yourself first, if you are not healthy and fit how can you give proper and needed care?
- Have a backup plan, the days you are unwell you should have someone to back you up. This is absolutely needed when you are giving care for someone in very critical condition.
- Be confident, mistakes happen, move on from failures, as long as your intention was good.
- Understand that the person you are caring for can have a change in mood, change in behavior over time. Do the adjustment in your expectation and be committed to help.
More in this NYT article.
Caregiver tax breaks
According to AARP reports, around 45 million Americans provide for the elderly care and spend nearly $5,500 per year on the care. Giving care is good news, another good news is the tax breaks you are entitled to provide care.
Many of your expenses towards caregiving qualify as eligible tax deductions. For example, if the person receiving care lives with you can claim deductions on his/her share of the mortgage, utilities and other housing-related expenses towards the care.
Some areas where you can claim some of the expenses you incurred as a caregiver to your elderly relatives.
If your dependent parent’s gross income after Social Security is less than $3,700 a year, and you paid for more than half of your parent’s, you may claim your parent as a dependent. If your parent qualifies as a dependent per IRS, your taxable income will be reduced by $3,700.
If you can’t claim parents as dependent, you still can claim some of the expenses you had incurred. If you had paid someone else to look after the elderly when you couldn’t you can ask for a credit for up to 35 percent of what you paid to a maximum of $3,000. That is you can claim credit for up to $1,050 (Dependent Care Credit).
Per IRS, you can claim deductions for medical expenses not covered by your health insurance that exceed 10 percent of your adjusted gross income. the expenses do include medical costs for providing care.
Hope you enjoyed the post. if you have any experience in care giving do share your opinions and advise here.
P.S. I am not a tax expert. Do consult with tax professionals before filing your tax return and claiming caregiving deductions, this article is written purely for entertainment purpose only.