Update: October, 2010: We are happy to report that Congressman Ted Deutch (D-District 19 Boca Raton) won the seat previously held by Congressman Robert Wexler, and has agreed to sponsor legislation for the Special Needs Tax Credit in the current 2010-2011 session of Congress. During our meeting following his election, we proposed modifications to the proposed tax bill. The refundable tax credit would be limited to the initial expenses of establishing Guardianship, up to $5,000, which is the greater issue affecting Freedom of Speech and Equal Representation Under the Law for persons with cognitive impairments. We also suggested an income cap for eligibility, much like the First Time Home Buyers Tax Credit of the previous years. This would provide a modicum of control over potential expense to the federal budget.
While a balanced budget or “revenue-neutral” is key in many legislative proposals, it was brought to the Congressman’s attention that for the additional income created by the bill for attorneys, medical doctors, social workers and judges, this taxable income would be an offset to the cost of the bill. In addition, as more people who would need a guardian would have one, there would be less expense to the states’ budgets for appointing Guardians Ad-Litem.
And finally, the greatest benefit would be to the family, who could affordably become the legal Guardian of their loved one, weather an individual with disabilities, or a parent with dementia or Alzheimer’s.
In November of 2010, we will be speaking at the General Assembly of the Jewish Federations of North America, in new Orleans, and participate in a program titled “Creativity, Innovation and Consciousness-Raising: New Approaches to Promoting the Strengths and Addressing the Needs of Individuals with Disabilities and their Families.” Attendance at the full event is expected to be 3,000 participants and philanthropists.
This panel discussion, our first national venue, will hopefully provide a stepping stone to our initial budget of $500,000, which would allow our infrastructure and business plan to be implemented.
Finally, we have established a “Support our Sponsors” page, of professionals and individuals in various industries. Please review our list should you need services, or contact us if you’d like to have your business listed or make an individual contribution.
Update: February, 2010: Our lead political proponent, Florida Congressman Robert Wexler, announced his resignation from Congress in October, 2009, as he accepted a position with a nonprofit Mid-East Peace initiative in Washington, DC. He had planned to introduce the Tax Credit Bill that same month, although prior to his transition enlisted the support of a Republican Congressional co-sponsor. Talks are underway to confirm the Republican’s continued support. We are making inquiry of other bi-partisan Congressional leaders to again develop bi-partisan support for this effort to bring this to the floor of the House of Representatives.
In November, 2009, Exceptional Parent Magazine, the nation’s leading publication for special needs families, ran a 2-page feature article about the tax Credit proposal, along with our petition. We are now receiving signed petitions of support on a weekly basis from across the United States.
In December, 2009, Director Jaret Vogel addressed 100 attorneys, members of the Florida Academy of Elder Law Attorneys, at their annual “UnProgram Conference” in Orlando, about the benefits to families, Democracy and their business potential, should the Tax Credit proposal become effective.
Update: August, 2009: After three years of effort, the Special Needs Tax Credit proposal is now draft legislation, having gained the sponsorship of Congressman Robert Wexler (D-FL). This proposal was originated by Jaret Vogel, Associate Director of Prosperity Life Planning. In addition, a new nonprofit has been formed, the Special Needs Tax Credit Alliance (SNTCA www.specialneedstaxcredit.org). The legal work to create the corporation as well as the filing under IRS code 501(c)(4) status, as a Social Welfare Organization, was done pro bono by the international law firm of Proskauer Rose LLC, and completed in July, 2009. Fund raising efforts in the amount of $550,000. are now underway for a 4-year business plan. As a 501(c)(4) organization, donations are not tax deductible to the donor, but use of proceeds is tax exempt for the corporation.
The express purpose of SNTCA is to amend the Internal Revenue Code of 1986, to provide a credit to individuals for legal expenses paid with respect to guardianship of and establishing a trust with respect to a disabled individual.
Over the next several years, visibility will be raised by contacting and hopefully gaining the support of national support organizations such as Autism Speaks, Autism Society of America, National Down Syndrome Society, National Alliance of Mental Illness and AARP for seniors with dementia and Alzheimer’s’. In addition, professional organizations representing Elder Law and Probate divisions of the various Bar Associations and professional Guardianship associations will be key supporters of this effort, to build national grass roots support in advance of legislative action.
If you would like to support this worthwhile venture, please download, print and complete our petition, and mail to the address below.
”Congress shall create legislation that will provide a maximum $5,000 tax credit for legal fees associated with establishing legal guardianship for a child or adult with disabilities to be effective at age 18 or beyond. Said tax credit shall also be available for creation of a trust for a person with disabilities.”
As proposed,, the tax credit would be available to the payer, which may be the mother, father, sister, brother, uncle, aunt, cousin, grandparent or other interested party of the beneficiary. The tax credit is preferred, since lower income families may not have enough tax-deductible expenses to allow the incentive that the program is designed to create.
The Federal government has a long history of creating tax incentives for public programs that assist individuals in providing for their future well-being, and that personal responsibility reduces the burden on the states for providing such relief.
Most noticeably are retirement plans of all sorts, which provide either tax-deductible contributions or tax-free distributions. This long-term savings program enables a better quality of life for the retiree, and reduces dependence on the Social Security system.
Educational IRAs, 529 Plans and Pre-Paid College programs sponsored by various states allow parents to save and contract for secondary education for their children. This education often allows higher-paid careers for the student, adding to the tax roles of the government.
Parents of children and adults with disabilities have personal challenges far in excess of those with “typical” healthy children. Supports for services, such as special education, occupational, physical and speech therapies vary widely from state-to-state. As a result, costs associated with these programs are often borne by the parents, and yet these specialized services hope to create and develop skills within the person with disabilities, and may allow for a lesser amount of assistance later in life, and less dependence on supportive government and non-profit assistance.
At age 18, a person with significant disabilities may not have the ethical or judgmental abilities to make critical decisions for themselves. They may not have the capacity to enter into contracts, utilize money, or make personal health and legal decisions. They may not have the ability to make informed decisions in voting or marriage.
At age 18, parents of the disabled are encouraged to seek limited or plenary guardianship for their child, in order to better safeguard the future for their loved one. Many parents, having provided for a plethora of services specific to the child with a disability, may be hard-pressed to afford the $2500 to $5000 costs associated with guardianship proceedings. With this incentive, parents may take the initiative to complete the guardianship process, thereby reducing the costs of Guardian Ad Litem programs nationwide.
In addition, the disabled person, in order to qualify for Medicaid or Supplemental Security Income, may not have more than $2,000. of personal savings. They must be impoverished to qualify for the only medical insurance they might qualify for through Medicaid. The Special Needs Trust was created as a way for parents and others to contribute to a source of funds for benefit of the person with disabilities. This money is neither owned nor controlled by the person with disabilities, and therefore allows the beneficiary to qualify for governmental benefits. The financial contribution of the parents helps provide a better quality of life than just the basics as offered through government programs
The legal fees to establish a Third–Party Special Needs Trust often run from $1,000 to $2,000, and these costs may be an obstacle for parents to establish guardianship or create the trust, which ultimately provides protections, supports and quality of life subsidies for benefit of the disabled person.
If interested to support our petition, please download, sign, date and mail your statement of support to: