Proposed tax credit for foster families to get hearing in Illinois

A bill that would give a state tax credit of up to $1,000 a year to foster families has bipartisan support in Illinois, but the cost of such a credit isn’t yet known.

State Rep. Darren Bailey, R-Xenia, filed House Bill 5119 and members of both parties signed up in support.

State Rep. Mark Batinick, R-Plainview, signed on to the bill and said such an incentive could help encourage more people to become foster parents.

“When you look at all the issues going on at the state level, we’ve heard about the deaths of people that are in state care, we need more good people doing this and so we need to incentivize good practice, good behavior,” Batinick said.

An Office of Inspector General annual report for the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services found that of the children that had some kind of interaction with the department in a 12 month period, 123 of them died.

Batinick said donated his recent legislative pay raise to two foster families.

“I’ve seen the inside of how special these people are and a lot of that stuff isn’t reimbursed,” Batinick said.

State Rep. Mike Zalewski, D-Riverside, said the measure has merit.

“You know where a foster parent says ‘I went through the exercise of helping a child, I’m going to put it on my Illinois income tax return and let my liability go downward,’ I’m excited about that as an opportunity, but again we have to make sure that we can afford it,” Zalewski said.

“What we do on tax credits this year is up for discussion,” Zalewski said. “Those cost [the state] money, unfortunately.”

Bailey’s measure was filed in February, but remains in the House Rules Committee.

Zalewski said he plans a subject matter hearing for the House Revenue and Finance Committee soon because the bill is worth discussing.

“I think I view it as more of a ‘I’ve done this magnanimous thing and I want to be helpful, but it may have hurt my bottom line, I might have not been able to go on the vacation I wanted, I may not have been able to afford the new appliance, what can the state do to help me alleviate that kind of burden,’ that seems like a worthwhile cause,” Zalewski said.

Lawmakers return to Springfield on March 18.

A subject matter hearing in Chicago on the topics of other tax credits – such as affordable housing tax credits, prompt payment, the earned income tax credit, and online ticket resale taxes – is scheduled before that.

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