Tax credit to help elderly and disabled
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Lobbyist Money Help  

Tax credit to help elderly and disabled

Date: January 29, 2007
By: Arlene L. Bishop
State Capitol Bureau

JEFFERSON CITY - The elderly and disabled would have a new avenue to improve handicapped accessibility in their homes if a proposed Senate bill passes.

Sen. Harry Kennedy, D-St. Louis, said he proposed the bill because of concerns from constituents who would like to make improvements to their homes, but can't.

Becky Behlmann-Bilyeu is the owner of Lasting Impressions Home Remodel Center of Florissant, Mo., which specializes in home remodels for people with disabilities. She provided photographs for the committee and testified in favor of the bill, saying the need continues to grow for these types of remodels as the country's aging population continues to grow.

"When you look at the photographs, it's easy to see when you have $25,000-30,000 dollars to invest in your home to make the accommodations necessary, you can do some work in the home and make the person more comfortable," she said. "...You run into a challenge when the combined income is under $20,000 and they're living on Social Security. This bill would help give these people the tax credit and afford them the opportunity to do some home remodeling to help them stay in their home as long as possible."

Kennedy said he has proposed the bill a number of times before, but there had been budget concerns. He said he believes that this year, he has found the solution.

The tax credit would come from money that the state already has for the Rebuilding Communities Tax Act, which was enacted in 1999. Under the act, the state provides tax credits to businesses that relocate or invest in communities that are designated "Rebuilding Communities."

Jason Archer, spokesperson for Sen. Kennedy, said that approximately $5 million of the $8 million allocated for Rebuilding Communities is unspent each year. Under the bill, the Economic Development Department would provide that $100,000 of the remaining funds be reallocated for tax breaks to those making specified improvements to their homes.

Archer said that each person would have a $2,500 cap for eligible improvements to his or her home. He said he believes that would provide for improvements to approximately 40 homes per year.

Wayne Lee, president of Epilepsy Education Organization, testified before the committee in support of the bill. He said he takes medication that weakens his bones and someday he might need a handicapped accessible home, and this bill would give him and anyone else who needs it the opportunity to make their home accessible.

He said with the improvements, "I don't have to be 7 feet tall to reach my kitchen cabinets."

Shannon Hawke of the National Multiple Sclerosis Society and Shelly Butler of the Southwest Missouri Center for Independent Living also testified in favor of the bill. No one testified in opposition.

It has not been determined when or if the bill will come up for a vote.



Eligible improvements:

1. Constructing entrance or exit ramps

2. Widening exterior or interior doorways

3. Widening hallways

4. Installing handrails or grab bars

5. Moving electrical outlets and switches

6. Installing stairway lifts.

7. Installing or modifying fire alarms, smoke detectors, and other alerting systems

8. Modifying hardware of doors

9. Modifying bathrooms

Source: Mo Senate Bill No. 8