The House Ways and Means Committee took testimony January 18 with respect to HB 332 which would authorize a nonrefundable income tax credit for the purchase or construction of an accessible home or for the renovation of a home to improve its accessibility.  

Reps. Stinziano and Grossman told the committee that HB332 “provides up to a $2,500 non-refundable income tax credit for a taxpayer that purchases or constructs a new residence or a contractor that incurs costs in constructing a new home that includes accessibility and visitability features. In addition, the bill would also provide up to a $1,000 non-refundable income tax credit for the costs incurred to modify an existing home.  The tax credit would have an annual cap of $300,000.

Stinziano noted that “home modification investments are essential to promote independent living because older Americans tend to occupy homes that were constructed in earlier decades when physical accessibility was not a priority.” 

Grossman added that the accessibility features have been found “to reduce the incidence of falls among older adults.” She said a study from Hawaii indicates “that every $1 in home safety modifications results in $3 in direct medical costs saved” as a result of the preventive aspects of the modifications. 

There were a number of questions about just how this would work and who would be eligible with Stinziano telling Rep. McCain that it is available only to disabled individuals, not to those making the changes in anticipation of aging. The sponsors were asked how that is different from the new home provisions. Stinziano said he would go back to the Virginia law, upon which the bill is based, to see how that is handled.

Stinziano did say they are attempting to keep the budget “realistic” but that they are open to finding the right model.