As the youngest members of the Baby Boom generation pass 50 and try to help aging parents, even as they accept their own limitations, many want their parents (and themselves) to be able to “age in place” – continue residing in their homes and maintain as much independence as possible. Sometimes aging in place requires moving to a new, more accessible, home or renovating an existing home. In Virginia, taxpayers can receive a valuable income tax credit for some of the costs associated with purchasing or building a new accessible residence or renovating an existing residence.
The Virginia Livable Home Tax Credit (“LHTC”) is a program administered by the Virginia Department of Housing and Community Development. It allocates up to $1 million in tax credits annually for improving “accessibility and universal visitability in Virginia’s residential units.” Taxpayers who purchase or build a new residential unit including at least three “accessibility” or “universal visitability” features may receive a $5000 state income tax credit. Taxpayers who retrofit an existing home may receive a state income tax credit of up to $5000 for one-half the cost of any accessibility or visitability features incorporated into the renovations.
Qualifying accessibility or universal visitability features include many elements that simply make a home safer and more livable as the residents age. We are aware of one couple in their late fifties who renovated their home recently and received the maximum LHTC for half the cost of replacing an existing bathtub with a low-barrier walk-in shower in the master bathroom, widening doorways, and installing “comfort height” toilets and grab bars in their first-floor bathrooms.
These features do not need to make the home look “institutional.” The doorways mentioned above were widened by just a few inches so passage by someone using a walker would be easier, even without widening the doorways enough to accommodate a wheelchair. The grab bars are not obvious and double as toilet paper holders and towel bars.
Taxpayers can only claim the Virginia LHTC up to the amount of their Virginia income tax for the year they receive the credit, but any amount remaining can be carried over to future tax years. Applications to the Virginia Department of Housing and Community Development must be submitted by February 28 for work completed in the prior year. Useful information can be found at www.dhcd.virginia.gov/LHTC. The staff that administers the LHTC program is very helpful.