CONTACT: MELVIN O. SHAW
100 Old Public Library
Iowa City IA 52242
(319) 384-0010; fax (319) 384-0024
Release: May 9, 2000
Passage of tax credit bill for disabled workers is lauded
IOWA CITY, Iowa -- Many at the University of Iowa and elsewhere are elated
by the news that Iowa Gov. Tom Vilsack is expected to sign into law a tax
credit bill that, among other things, could mean more jobs for persons with
Students at the UI's College of Law Clinic and their professor Leonard Sandler
helped the Systems Change Network and lawmakers draft and revise the Assistive
Device Tax Credit Act, which is included in House File 2560, recently passed
by the General Assembly. The amendment allows small businesses a tax credit
up to $2,500 per year on the first $5,000 a small business spends to make
workplace improvements for current disabled employees or those it expects
The bill's passage is "a milestone and a victory for small businesses
and Iowans with disabilities," wrote Sandler to those who worked to get
the bill introduced in the Iowa Legislature.
Clinic interns, second-year student Janette Rodecap and third-year student
Tria Lawton-Russell, and various others, spent considerable time drafting
the credit bill language for consideration by the Iowa Legislature. Together
they provided the Systems Change Network, a grass-roots organization run by
and for persons with disabilities, with technical assistance and advice about
state and federal legislation and workforce development initiatives.
The cost of making workplace modifications varies across businesses, Rodecap
said, adding that the assistive tax credit bill is an incentive to businesses
to make improvements that otherwise they might not. Such modifications can
include specially adapted keyboards, sound and vision enhancing equipment,
and other items and technologies.
"The timing is right for this bill," says Mary Quigley, director,
Iowa Program for Assistive Technology. "This bill, along with the recently
enacted Medicaid buy-in legislation, addresses major barriers to employment
for persons with disabilities, health insurance and workplace modifications."
Currently, a federal tax incentive that covers assistive devices applies
only to small businesses that must comply with the Americans with Disabilities
Act (ADA). The ADA only covers employers with 15 or more employees or businesses
that are considered public accommodations.
She says at least 57,000 of the state's businesses have 20 or fewer employees.
That 57,000, Quigley says, represents 90 percent of Iowa businesses and 70
percent of Iowa employees.
Small businesses are defined in the legislation as having had either gross
receipts in the prior tax year of $3 million or less, or employed 14 full-time
workers or fewer during a prior tax year.
The tax credit, as it reads, is applicable for the first $5,000 paid during
a single tax year for the purchase, rental, or workplace modification used
to increase, maintain or improve the functional capabilities of an individual
with a disability in the workplace or on the job.
For more information about the Assistive Device Tax Credit, contact the
University of Iowa Legal Clinic at (319) 335-9023 or Mary Quigley, co-director,
Iowa Program for Assistive Technology at (319) 356-4402.