Special Needs Tax Credit Alliance, Inc.
The office of SNTCA is located at 4673 Brady Boulevard, Delray Beach, FL 33445. Contact Jaret L. Vogel, Director at 561-865-2921, or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org
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The Greatest Civil Rights Bill
Since Women Won the Right to Vote
An update on the Special Needs Tax Credit Act: “HR 1597”
by Jaret L. Vogel, Special Needs Tax Credit Alliance, Inc. August, 2013
Six years ago, my wife and I attended a symposium on Guardianship, with a veritable “who’s-who” of Elder Law attorneys and professional guardians in South Florida. During the program, one Mom stood up and asked “Why do I have to pay $5,000 to become guardian to speak for my own child?” I then stood and asked “Why can’t we get a tax refund for that amount? The whole room went silent. And that was my “Ah-ha!” moment.
What I soon recognized was a legal “Catch 22:” What if the child, at age 18 and older, did not have the capacity to make legal, health care and financial decisions for himself, and the parents were unable to afford the expense? Who would speak for the child?
We met with an attorney in Boca Raton, while advocating for a special needs family through our other non-profit Prosperity Life Planning. She loved the idea, and the following week contacted the New York City office Pro-Bono department of Proskauer Rose, a prestigious international legal firm.
At no expense to our organization, over the next six months, the “Special Needs Tax Credit Alliance, Inc., was created, as a State of Florida nonprofit organization, and recognition by the IRS as a 501(c)(4) Social Welfare Organization, dedicated to creation and passage of a federal tax amendment to give low and moderate income parents a one-time $5,000 “refundable tax credit,” for the costs of establishing Guardianship for a person with disabilities. This credit would give a one-time, dollar-for-dollar refund of up to $5,000 against their tax bill, and a cash refund if they didn’t owe the full amount.
With a donation from another leading Elder Law attorney in Delray Beach, we went to Washington, DC, and met with representatives of Congressman Ander Crenshaw and Congressman Robert Wexler. Six months later, we received a call from Congressman Wexler’s legislative assistant, and advised the Congressman was interested in introducing the Bill, which I called the” Special Needs Tax Credit.”
Within days, we began forwarding notes, and crafted the language and concepts for the bill. During that time, we received assistance from another Board Certified attorney in Boca Raton, who explained the public benefits tax rules and guidelines, as they would be referred to in the proposal.
Later that year, Congressman Wexler stepped-down from his office to work with a nonprofit Mid-East peace initiative, and Congressman Ted Deutch won the district election. We met with the Congressman, who also wanted to continue the effort and sponsor the legislation when the Bill was completed.
On March 2, 2011, during the 112th session of Congress, Congressman Ted Deutch (FL-19) introduced House Resolution 878. A real SUCCESS in the non-profit and legislative processes; with almost no money, we introduced a Bill in the United States Congress, having been created pro bono by an internationally-recognized legal firm!
Over the next two years, eight additional Congressmen signed on as Co-Sponsors: McKinley (WV-1), Maloney (NY-14), Brown (FL-3), Meeks (NY-6), Doggett (TX-25), Sessions (TX-32), Hastings, (FL-234), and Doyle (PA- 14).
Now, in the current 113th session of Congress, the Bill has been reintroduced as HR 1597 by Congressman Deutch, and has been officially designated as the Special Needs Tax Credit Act.
The organization, Special Needs Tax Credit Alliance, is continuing to gather signatures on their petition, supporting HR 1597, for federal tax reimbursement to parents for the expense of becoming legal guardians of their child, who needs that type of support. A copy of the petition follows this article.
Besides the common sense ideas of expanding Democracy, that everyone deserves to have a voice, or someone to speak for them, and “liberty and Justice for All, not for Most,” there are additional benefits of this Bill, if and when it becomes part of the IRS Code.
If more individuals who need a guardian have one, there would be less need and expense for county courts to appoint guardians ad litem, or public guardians. In addition, if more families were better able to afford the short-term, out-of-pocket expense of becoming guardian, knowing the costs (up to $5,000) would be reimbursed from their own tax dollars, there would be more business for the professionals who work in the guardianship industry, creating more taxable income from their salaries BACK TO the IRS, and possibly more jobs.
In short, this is the greatest civil rights bill, “disguised” as a tax bill, since women won the right to vote. With the unfortunate increasing population of our children who may not have certain capacities, there is growing need for all introduced during the 112th session of Congress parents to speak for their child who cannot speak for himself.
Reimbursement of this expense, which parents of “typical” children do not endure, corrects the gaps in our Constitutional amendments, guaranteeing Freedom of Speech and Equal Representation Under the Law.
As a 501(c)(4) Social Welfare Organization, donations are not tax-deductible to the donor, but are tax-free for the organization’s use. There are currently no salaries paid to any directors or volunteers, but the organization has drafted a 4-year, $500,000 funding plan to expand awareness nationally. A copy of the Bill can be downloaded from www.specialneedstaxcredit.org.
For more information, contact Jaret L. Vogel at Special Needs Tax Credit Alliance, 4673 Brady Boulevard, Delray Beach, FL 33445. 561-239-0054. Info@specialneedstaxcredit.org.
Update: March, 2011:
Florida Non-Profit, Cong. Ted Deutch Introduce
Special Needs Tax Credit Bill H.R. 878
Delray Beach, FL March 2, 2011
US House of Representatives Congressman Ted Deutch (D-FL 19th . Dist) today introduced the “Special Needs Tax Credit” Bill into Congress, designed to provide a refundable tax credit for the expense of establishing guardianship for an individual with disabilities 18 years of age or older.
Initiated in 2006 by Jaret L. Vogel, Director of the Special Needs Tax Credit Alliance, a Florida-based 501 (c)(4) nonprofit social welfare organization, the bill addresses the plight of families with a special needs family member, who need to become legal guardian of their child.
“When an individual with Autism, Down Syndrome, or other developmental disabilities turns 18, they are deemed to have all the legal responsibilities of an adult,” Vogel said. “Like all other young adults, they are legally entitled to enter in contracts, make legal, financial and health care decisions. Some of these individuals may not have the judgment abilities to make such decisions, and need support from their parents to live in the adult world. For this reason, legal guardianship is the vehicle established to protect them and ensure sound life-choices.”
Vogel continued, “the guardianship process may cost $3,000 to $5,000 or more, and many families simply cannot afford to enter into the process. Many of these families have endured extraordinary expenses already, for years of therapies, medications, supportive equipment, etc. Therein lies the “Catch-22;” the young adult cannot make his own decisions and the parents cannot afford to become guardian.
All American citizens are guaranteed to enjoy Freedom of Speech and Equal Representation Under the Law. An adult with cognitive impairments who does not have a legal guardian is unfortunately excluded from these civil protections.
The Special Needs Tax Credit Bill is designed to make the guardianship process more affordable for more families. If the family can find the funds for legal expenses short-term, knowing it would be refunded, more persons who need a guardian would have one, and consequently less strain on the state court system to appoint a guardian ad litem, or emergency guardian, if none exists. Hence, a savings to the court system.
Most importantly, more Americans would have a voice in their affairs, through a parent or loved one, and further expand Democracy, much like the Women’s Suffragette Movement empowered women to have a voice in their affairs, over 90 years ago.”
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 in January a position with a nonprofit Mid-East Peace initiative in Washington, DC. He had planned to introduce the Tax Credit Bill in October, 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 support for this effort to bring our Bill to the floor of the US 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: September, 2009: After three years of effort, the Special Needs Tax Credit proposal is now draft legislation, having gained the sponsorship of US Representative Robert Wexler (D-Boca Raton). This proposal was originated in November, 2006 by Jaret Vogel, as Associate Director of Prosperity Life Planning (www.prosperitylifeplanning.org).
The legal work to create our new nonprofit organization, the Special Needs Tax Credit Alliance (SNTCA), as well as 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 LLP (www.proskauer.com), completed in July, 2009.
Fund raising efforts in the amount of $550,000. are now underway. As a 501(c)(4) organization, donations are not tax deductible to the donor, but use of proceeds is tax exempt for the corporation.
Over the next several years, visibility will be raised by contacting and hopefully gaining the support of state and 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’. Political organizations such as the American Civil Liberties Union and organizations supporting the Americans with Disabilities Act will also be contacted.
In addition, professional organizations representing Elder Law and Probate divisions of the various Bar Associations and membership organizations such as the Academy of Special Needs Planners and the Special Needs Alliance, along with professional Guardianship associations and financial institutions addressing the special needs community will be contacted in hopes of becoming key supporters of this effort, to build national grass roots support in advance of legislative action.
While the Special Needs Tax Credit proposal is legislation to amend the Internal Revenue Code of 1986, it is also to be considered as civil rights legislation, in that the financial expenses of establishing Guardianship and creating a Special Needs Trust for a person with disabilities are expenses not borne by families with “typical” children. Lacking a Guardian creates an impediment to Freedom of Speech and Equal Representation under the Law for the person with disabilities, which our First and Fourteenth Constitutional Amendments were expressly created to protect.