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It’s time to value and support the work millions of Americans do every day to take care of their loved ones.

There are 40 million unpaid caregivers in the U.S. and by 2060 the population of 65-year-olds in the U.S., will double. At the same time, automation and artificial intelligence are making it easier to produce the things we need with the work of fewer people, eliminating many traditional jobs in the process.

It’s time to redefine work and provide support for the different ways Americans contribute to their communities that may not be captured by GDP or a bottom line. And we should start by valuing the work done by unpaid caregivers.

Many of us have loved ones with growing needs as they age and see firsthand how aging and illness introduce a set of challenges that make it difficult for our loved ones to care for themselves. And we are not alone. Millions of Americans are figuring out how to address these challenges and help their loved ones live independent lives with dignity. Despite the value of their effort and sacrifices, this vital work isn’t valued much by the market or by the government.

We’re about to have more Americans in need of care than ever before. Now is the time to provide options to families that allow them to care for their loved ones in the way that's best for them.

Expanding the Earned Income Tax Credit

The earned income tax credit (EITC) is a refundable tax credit for low- to moderate-income working individuals and couples, particularly those with children. For years it has helped millions of Americans meet their basic needs. But earning the credit requires something a lot of unpaid caregivers don’t have: income.

CALPIRG, as a part of our national network, is urging lawmakers to expand the EITC to include unpaid caregivers, which is why we are supporting the Cost-of-Living Refund Act, introduced in the U.S. Senate by Senator Sherrod Brown. This bill not only expands the eligibility for the EITC to unpaid caregivers, but the refundable tax credit goes directly into caregivers’ pockets, so they can decide how best to spend it to support their family.

This is an important step toward redefining how we think about “jobs” and providing support for different ways Americans contribute to their communities that may not be captured by GDP or a bottom line.

Change in the States

Our Work for Wellbeing campaign is part of our New Economy program, where we are seeking to tackle concrete problems while advancing new and better ideas for organizing our economy and our lives. Individual states have the opportunity to support caregivers beyond federal credits. Policymakers in both California and Washington state have proposed an EITC expansion similar to Sen. Brown’s, while several others have introduced or passed legislation to provide a nonrefundable tax credit for caregivers.

4.4 million Californians provide unpaid care for their loved ones. As the senior population increases faster than any other age group in California over the coming decades, we should recognize this work for the invaluable contribution it is.

A bill in the California State Assembly is an important first step.

AB 1682 will provide vital financial support to caregivers as they navigate the challenging experience of providing care to a loved one. This bill would establish a floor of $1,200 for the EITC credit for qualifying caregivers. Right now, one is only eligible for EITC based on earnings in the formal economy. This bill would say if you're a qualifying caregiver (of a young child or adult dependent who is elderly or with a disability), and your earned income gets you less than $1,200 in EITC, your EITC would be $1,200. This would apply even if your earnings are $0. 

Expanding the EITC to caregivers would put money back in their pockets while positioning California as a national leader in solutions to the future of work.

Tell your senators to expand the earned income tax credit

Congress is currently considering legislation that would allow unpaid caregivers to benefit from the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC). Urge your senators to support it today.