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Seniors Owed Tax Breaks for Millions in Volunteer Hours

Our senior citizens are a precious commodity in the United States.  They are our babysitters as women are a majority of the workforce.  They are our soundest investors making sure our stocks and economy continue to rise.  Then their best attributes are being grandma and grandpa.  They spoil our kids with unconditional love.  What most of us don’t realize is seniors are America’s largest group of volunteers.  They continue to spread their love for their communities beyond the familial front.  From our soup kitchens to festivals, seniors make it happen.  Yet, they receive few incentives or accommodations for their services.  We must create a source of thankful return to these senior citizens in the form of a tax break for volunteer hours.  It’s the least we can do.   

Grandparents Raise Our Generations for a Pittance 

According to studies, 74% of grandparents provide daycare for their grandchildren daily or weekly.  These growing families save thousands of dollars a month and tens of thousands over a year.  The cheapest place for daycare is currently Mississippi, $4900 a month while the highest is in Washington, D.C. at over $22,000.  Grandparents are normally paid a very low wage for their daycare if paid at all.  Sometimes, it’s a small monthly stipend that’s not equal to a daycare-based fee or their former (if retired) salary.  While researching blogs, there isn’t one defined monetary calculation for payment but it’s chump change.  These daycare grannies and grampies provide housing, food, education, potty training (that’s where the rubber meets the road because it’s incredibly difficult), transportation, sleeping arrangements, favorite blankies, and much more.  Daycare by someone who keeps your kids safe is priceless not payless.  But again, mom, dad and the government aren’t forking over enough to really provide any true sustenance for this senior citizen job.   

Sure, Uncle Sam will provide tax deductions for grandma and grandpas daycare stipend if it’s considered a business relationship.  Then both the grandparents and parents must have a formal and costly legal agreement recorded, report every single transaction to the IRS and risk audits.  Don’t forget that once you are registered as a daycare provider, the state can inspect both of your homes and your services.  In the end, grandma and grandpa (mostly grandma) are left with less for more without recourse.   

Quantifying Exchanges  

After ensuring our next generations greatness, seniors head off to volunteer.  According to studies, 26.4 million seniors volunteer approximately 5.6 billion hours of their time.  Their generosity saves nonprofit organizations and other causes $77.2 billion a year.  That’s just the national average.  A further view finds seniors donate 65% of their time to churches and synagogues.  Many can argue that these faith centers tend to contribute to the common cause instilling morals and responsibilities upon good community communication.  Another 23% of seniors volunteer at educational institutions-helping our readers become leaders.  Then on the micro level 37% of seniors work directly in their neighborhood causes.  All of these hours are exchanged for the common good, for our stability as a functioning society of likeminded individuals collectively ensuring success. But why isn’t anyone being paid?   

The IRS doesn’t consider time a quantifiable exchange.  Time is only quantifiable when there is a time clock, state, and national labor laws are enforced and a product is created.  Right.  Sure. Seniors are upholding America’s society by exchanging their time, 40% “give” 4 or more hours a week.  The products created are safer schools, cleaner neighborhoods, meals prepared and distributed, babies nurtured in ICU, blankets knitted for the homeless, etc. It’s time we exchange a tax break for their unquantifiable exchanges that stabilize society. 

 The Solution 

If money is saved by an organization for less hiring, then volunteering is quantifiable.  The savings from not hiring a would-be employee, whether it’s seasonal, part-time or contract, should be converted into hourly quantified receipts for seniors that can be tax deducted.  The seniors would be allowed up to 1,000 hours a year as a write-off.  The write-off could be recorded as a loss of income so their tax bracket would decrease for income tax refunds.  The receipts would be provided by the non-profits and causes as a 1099 form for every yearly senior that volunteered.  The same should occur for babysitting, whether it’s 40 hours or more a week or just 3 hours, a receipt by the parents should be provided yearly as an income decrease for seniors.  Since families are saving thousands by sending the kids to mom and dads house, they would not be allowed to claim the expense for babysitting.  That’s the cost of shortchanging family.  Together, we must act to ensure our senior citizens are honored and paid for their expansive and life-saving services.  Give them a break, at least the tax kind.

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