Our family law attorneys are privileged to work with adoptive parents and foster care parents. One of the focuses of our adoption practice is helping foster care parents become adoptive parents. Such adoptions can be uphill legal battles, but our attorneys are skilled at handling complex litigation involving foster care. We see foster parents fighting for the best interests of the children in the care everyday. Thus, it inspires us to fight for the interests of those opening their homes as foster families.
That is why we happily remind foster families that Oklahoman’s can take advantage of a new tax deduction. House Bill 1919, a new law proposed by House Speaker T.W. Shannon, took effect January 1, 2014. It provides a much needed tax break to assist Oklahoma foster parents.
When foster parents file their 2014 tax returns, they will be able to, for the first time, claim a deduction because they care for a foster child. The deduction is small. It is a $2,500 deduction for single filers and $5,000 for joint filers. The deduction is not limited based on taxpayer income. As a result of the deduction, most families will save approximately $150 each year they claim the deduction. While this is a small savings, it is a step in the right direction and may help encourage additional families to consider foster care.
It is good to see that Oklahoma is recognizing the importance of foster care. Further, it is important in our state to take steps to offset the high costs of raising foster care children. The Department of Human Services in Oklahoma reports over 4,000 foster homes may benefit from the new tax deduction. Oklahoma Tax Commission representative Paula Ross notes the deduction is legislatively mandated and permanent unless the law changes.
Additional Beneficial Laws for Oklahoma Foster Parents Coming
According to The Oklahoman, House Speaker T.W. Shannon indicates a desire to introduce additional legislation to improve foster care in Oklahoma, and said of the successful passing of House Bill 1919: “This tax deduction will not only provide some financial relief to current foster families, but it may also allow more loving homes to open their doors to children in need. We have a moral responsibility to care for the least among us, and I am proud to say that Oklahoma is the only state to offer such a tax deduction.”
The Department of Human Services indicates that there are over 11,000 children in Oklahoma state custody. With only approximately 4,000 foster homes, it appears crucial for the state to enact laws like HB 1919 to help recruit new volunteers and support and maintain existing foster care.
In Oklahoma, foster care provides full-time substitute temporary care in a home environment for children ages birth to 18 who are in Oklahoma Department of Human Services custody. Children are in state custody for many reasons. Sometimes entire families of children require foster care. Foster children, unfortunately, often come from family situations with high rates of physical, sexual, and mental abuse. So those providing foster care have many obstacles to overcome. Foster parents must undergo training and work as a team with biological parents and social workers. It is a daunting, but rewarding, task to provide a safe caring environment for children until they can return home or find permanent placement.
If you are seeking an attorney familiar with foster care agencies, and Oklahoma and federal laws impacting foster care parents, please contact the knowledgeable family law attorneys at the Kania Law Office today. You can call our offices to schedule a free consultation at 918-743-2233. We can assist you in both English and Spanish for your convenience.