LANSING, Mich. — Legislation to make homes more accessible for older adults and persons with disabilities has received bipartisan approval by the Michigan Senate.

Sponsored by Senator Vincent Gregory (D–Lathrup Village), Senate Bill 395 creates state income tax credits of up to $5,000 for the purchase or retrofitting of a home for purposes of accessibility and visitability.

“This isn’t just for the homes of individuals with disabilities, but also to improve the ‘visitability’ of homes,” Sen. Gregory said. “The architectural features of a home influence the quality of life and independence of not only the resident, but also others who may have physical limitations to their everyday life. Accessible homes benefit people of all ages and abilities, and help people to live independently in their homes and communities for as long as they are safely able to do so.”

Sen. Gregory worked closely with the Multiple Sclerosis Society and other organizations to develop legislative solutions that would improve in-home physical access, eliminate barriers, and provide greater opportunities and social freedoms.

The statute, if enacted into law, allows a taxpayer to claim a credit for

  • 50 percent of the cost of specified accessibility/visitability modifications; or,
  • 4 percent of the purchase price of a home complying with accessibility/visitability standards.

If the amount of the credit exceeds the income tax liability of the taxpayer, it could be carried over for up to seven additional years. The taxpayer must own the home; the credit does not apply to rental properties. The legislation caps credits at $1 million annually. If claims exceed the cap, credits would be prorated among eligible applicants.

Under the terms of the bill, “accessibility” means that a residence is designed to provide the taxpayer or relative living with the taxpayer — and who has one or more physical limitations in daily life activities as verified by that individual’s physician — with the ability to enter, exit and use the property with and without assistance.

The bill defines “visitability” as a residence designed to include all of the following: at least one zero-step entrance; at least one full or half bathroom on the main floor; and all doorways on the main floor with a minimum of 32 inches of clear passage space.

Sen. Gregory thanked the Senate Finance Committee and full Senate for the prompt approval of the bill, and urged House members to enact it before the summer recess.