Tax break proposed for on-site child care

LANSING – Two recently-introduced bills would give businesses more incentives to build or renovate on-site child-care facilities.

Proposals by senators Bill Bullard, R-Milford, and Beverly Hammerstrom, R-Temperance, would benefit both families and businesses, the sponsors say. One would allow 25 percent of the cost of building or renovating day care facilities to be deducted from the Single Business Tax. The other calls for a tax break of up to $50,000 annually for building a facility or subsidizing employee child-care costs.

“Built-in child care would greatly benefit employees because they would get to eat lunch with their children or care for them if they’re sick,” Hammerstrom said. “We need to get businesses to start paying attention to this issue.”

Hal Van Sumeren, president of the Traverse City Area Chamber of Commerce, calls it an excellent idea. “Probably the only way we’re going to get businesses to do this is by offering them encouragement or benefit.”

Van Sumeren said that small businesses especially need more benefits. “The start-up costs are the same for everyone whether you’re a large or small business.”

That’s something that neither bill may offer, though. “This is aimed at mid-size or larger businesses,” said Bullard.

The Grand Traverse Pavilions is one local business that has been providing child care for its employees and surrounding community nearly two years. It has children ranging in age from two weeks to 6 years, and in the summer offers services for children up to 12. The company won the Child-Care Challenge, an award given out by Rep. Patricia Godchaux, R-Birmingham, to businesses that offer excellent child-care services to their employees.

Angel Elsenheimer is a Grand Traverse Pavilions employee who brings her four-month-old daughter to work with her every day. She said she wouldn’t know what she’d do without on-site child care.

“It’s extremely convenient to be able to bring my baby to work with me because I can see her and feed her,” she said.

On-site child-care also benefits the businesses, according to the senators. “More and more companies are looking for a way to attract and maintain good employees and this is a good way to do that,” Bullard said.

Both bills are in the early stages, but the senators are confident a combination of their proposals will pass. BIZNEWS