A new law gives Oklahoma foster parents a tax break.
Starting on their 2014 returns, taxpayers can claim a deduction of $2,500 if filing single or $5,000 for joint returns if they care for a foster child. There are about 4,000 foster homes in Oklahoma, according to the Department of Human Services.
There is no restriction on the taxpayers' income. The deduction can be taken once per year, saving taxpayers an average of $150.
The deduction will be a good recruitment tool to finding quality foster families, said Lisa Feist, executive director of OK Foster Wishes, a nonprofit that provides resources to foster children. She said the reality is the reimbursement given to foster parents by the state isn't enough.
“It costs a lot to raise a child,” she said, adding that the tax credit is another way to reassure foster families they are valued by the community.
A result of House Bill 1919, proposed by House Speaker T.W. Shannon, the law went into effect Jan. 1. Shannon said the tax break addresses a pressing need for foster families in the state.
“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,” he said.
Shannon said he plans to introduce future legislation regarding foster care in Oklahoma.