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Tax Credit for Elder Care Draws Praise

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RALEIGH — President Clinton is proposing a tax break to help provide long- term care for the elderly and disabled.

The tax credit would compensate families struggling to provide long-term care.

News of this proposal is being received very well here in North Carolina. Our population of people 60 years old or older ranks eleventh in the country. So this could benefit a lot of people.

"Quite often the whole family ends up in trouble," says Karen Gottovi, executive director of the Division of Aging. "People have to stop working to stay at home and care for the elderly person. That means their income stops."

The state's Division of Aging says the president's $6.2 billion tax cut proposal will benefits thousands of families right here in North Carolina.

The $1,000 tax credit would help families with the huge expenses of adult daycare, respite care and reduced work hours as a result of caring for an elderly family member.

But some say it's still not enough.

"It changed my lifestyle completely," said Sylvia Boles.

That's what happened when Boles' 97-year-old father moved in almost nine years ago. It was not all fun and games after she had to quit her job, while her expenses increased.

Adult daycare is only part of the $1,000 a month she and her husband shell out for her father's care.

Still, she only partially agrees with the president's $1,000 a year tax credit plan, because it only covers her expenses for a month.

"I think it's a step in the right direction, but as you can tell from what I've said, it will help, but it's not necessarily enough," Boles said.

Thousands of North Carolinians would be affected if the proposal passes.

Married couples qualify for the tax credit if they make less than $110,000 a year or $75,000 for people who are single.

Under the proposal, the state Division of Aging would also receive part of $625 million in grants to set up information and referral programs for families.

Gottovi says the funds would be used "to get people the services they need at a local level, and to make sure that they can cope."

Parents with disabled or chronically ill children would also be eligible for the proposed tax credit.

But as with every proposal, the president's plan must receive congressional approval before anyone sees the benefits.