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it upside down. Where there used to be a relative around, or a neighbor, or a church nearby which made certain an isolated older
person was cared for, had food, had some one to talk to, there today often is no one who even knows that older person is there. And if they know, they may well be fearful "of becoming involved," of trying to help and then ending up with more responsibility than they can manage.
So we suddenly have said that Government should begin providing for all the isolated, lonely, ill, hungry people in our country. Yet Government is limited by the money which we give in the form of taxes. And, if Government did do everything, what use would there be for us, the ordinary citizen who wants to be a part, who wants to live in a way that brings meaning and satisfaction which comes only in being able to give of one
self to others?
We also know, though, that most giving involves costs of some kind. A cost that has increased geometrically over the past five years is the cost of travel. And for the meals on wheels volunteer,
this isn't just travel to a place where one can volunteer, it may mean traveling to pick up meals, driving a route of ten to twenty miles to deliver the meal, and then returning to the pickup site to deposit the carriers.
The people who have the time during the day to deliver these meals to isolated, homebound, mainly elderly persons, are usually themselves older, and retired. This means they are living on a fixed income. Today an ever increasing number of people who have been working are either working less, or are unemployed.
too, have time and skills to offer, and they have an ever greater need than before to be able to help others, to feel productive.
What we need is a partnership between the Government and the people to make volunteering of one's time, skills, energy possible, and this without the taint of the Government involvement which all too often destroys the community spirit to look after their own. One way to help the volunteer is to allow deduction of travel or mileage costs for federal income tax purposes.
For Government and for business when an employee uses their own personal car for Government or business tasks, they are imbursed at a rate around twenty-two cents per mile. Present tax law provides for a deduction of 20 cents a mile when the is used for business and nine cents a mile for a volunteer. simply have not kept up with the ever increasing costs of gasoline and car maintenance. Certainly with all the financial data available it would be possible to link the amount of deduction allowed to a realistic travel or mileage cost indicator, and at minimum to allow the same amount for the volunteer as for the person conducting "business."
This is all we ask that the individual volunteer have the opportunity to deduct travel/mileage costs at the same going rate as used by Government and business for their employees, and at a minimum, that the rate applied to business in the tax lawS also apply to volunteers.
we have not touched upon is those volunteers who do not have enough non-Social Security Security income to necessitate completing the "long" tax form, do not itemize their deductions.
Most of these volunteers are over age 65; some
are in their
eighties. As soon ав the price of gasoline doubled a few years ago, we found these volunteers confronted by an extremely difficult problem: how to find the money to pay the costs to deliver those meals. They give freely of their time, their skills, their caring. What many do not have is the money to buy gas.
Although this problem is not considered in this Bill, we want to raise it for your future consideration. One option we would suggest is giving these volunteers a tax credit on their gasoline i.e. give them a ration card, or a sort of credit
card, to buy gasoline tax free. This would make possible a sharing by Government and the volunteers in the cost of the gasoline, and a greater sharing in the caring for human need.
If such a program would be too cumbersome to administer, perhaps a system similar to that used for public vehicles could be extended to volunteers. Again, the partnership would help make it possible for the volunteer to carry out his or her duties.
Looking at this same partnership from the service perspective we ca quickly see that the meals on wheels volunteers while helping people in need are also relieving the Government of what could be a costly and never-ending burden. Without proper nutrition many more people would be requiring crisis medical care, and would have to be institutionalized. According to the recent Administration on Aging meal program evaluation report (Kirschner Associates of Albuquerque and Opinion Research Corporation of Frinceton, New Jersey), the average home-delivered meals recipient is 78 years old and in poor health; 65% have imcomes under $6,000; 98% of those receiving home-delivered meals are "priority"
- i.e. are frail, low income, minority, and/or over age 75. Without meals on wheels many more would be in institutions supported by Medicaid and Medicare.
Since a key benefit to the volunteer is the sense of being needed and knowing that someone's well-being depends or the delivery of those meals, meals on wheels benefits the well elderly as well as the more infirm elderly. The tax deduction for mileage at a rate equal to that for business would be a recognition of the valuable contributions made by volunteers, and especially those elderly volunteers who are the backbone of both the meals on wheels and congregate meals programs. This deduction would also provide that extra financial assistance needed by many to make being a volunteer possible.
Philip Speser, J.D., Ph.D.
The NATIONAL INSTITUTE
STIMULATING PRIVATE SECTOR INVESTMENTS IN OUR FUTURE
Testimony on S. 108 submitted to
the Senate Subcommittee on Taxation and Debt Management
Philip Speser, J.D., Ph.D., Executive Director
As America shifts from an industrial-based to a hightechnology-based economy. new skills are required for careers. Those who lack these skills will have increasing difficulties in finding employment. The impacts of these changes are seen in widespread unemployment due to cutbacks in basic industries such as automobiles and steel. S. 108 provides important tax incentives which will benefit displaced workers and youth seeking to enter the job market.
The ability of high-technology firms to contribute to