Federal Hearing Aid Tax Credit Bill Reintroduced with Record Support
Washington, DC, April 09, 2009 – The Better Hearing Institute today issued the following update on efforts to create a federal tax credit for people who purchase hearing aids: Representative Carolyn McCarthy (D-NY) has reintroduced the bipartisan Hearing Aid Tax Credit (H.R. 1646) along with Rep. Vern Ehlers (R-MI) and a record number of original Congressional co-sponsors. The bill has already attracted the support of 10 members of the House Ways and Means Committee which has jurisdiction over all tax legislation including H.R. 1646. The hearing aid tax credit, with the addition of a $200,000/year income eligibility cap, is otherwise unchanged from legislation in the 110th Congress that attracted 112 co-sponsors by the end of the session.
The Better Hearing Institute has updated its tax credit website, www.hearingaidtaxcredit.org, with information about the new House bill as well as Senate companion legislation that will be introduced in the coming weeks. The website was launched in April 2008, and hearing aid tax credit supporters nationwide have sent more than 25,000 letters to Congress since that time in support of the bill. H.R. 1646 would provide a $500 tax credit per hearing aid ($1,000 for two devices) for boomers, seniors and parents of children with hearing loss. About 40% of people who do not use hearing aids, according to a recent BHI national study, would be more likely to purchase them in the near future if the tax credit were available.
Supporters of the hearing aid tax credit – whether an individual with hearing loss, a friend or family member of someone with hearing loss, or a hearing aid dispenser – are encouraged to visit www.hearingaidtaxcredit.org, to contact their elected officials in support of this legislation. The website underscores BHI's vital role as the "Advocates for America's Ears."
"Our effort is grounded in the sad fact that although 95% of people with hearing loss could be successfully treated with hearing aids, fewer than 23% of such Americans (7.38 million people) currently use them," said BHI Executive Director Sergei Kochkin, Ph.D. "That's tragic, and we as a nation must do better."
"Nearly 2 out of 3 adults with hearing loss cite financial constraints as a core reason that they do not wear hearing aids," said Kochkin. "With the hearing aid assistance tax credit, boomers, seniors and parents of children would have the financial boost they need to get their hearing loss treated. These people are the reason that Congress needs to step up and take action."
Passage of H.R. 1646 would assist up to 1.2 million children and 11.5 million other Americans ages 55 and older in treating their hearing loss. While not covering the full cost of hearing aid treatment, it would be a significant benefit to the 72% of people who receive no financial assistance from any source to address their hearing loss.
The hearing aid assistance tax credit has won the bipartisan support of over 100 Senators and Representatives and, in an unprecedented fashion, organizations representing hearing health professionals, consumers, educators, providers and manufacturers. Endorsing organizations include: Hearing Loss Association of America (formerly SHHH), A.G. Bell Association for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing, International Hearing Society, American Speech Language Hearing Association, American Academy of Audiology, Deaf and Hard of Hearing Alliance, Deafness Research Foundation, and Hearing Industries Association.
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Founded in 1973, the Better Hearing Institute (www.betterhearing.org) conducts research and engages in hearing health education with the goal of helping people with hearing loss to benefit from proper treatment. Visit the new tax credit website at www.hearingaidtaxcredit.org.