Pregnant Georgian women can now include their fetus as dependent on their tax returns.
The Georgia Department of Treasury released new guidance this week, specifying that the agency “recognizes any unborn child with a verifiable human heartbeat … as eligible for exemption from Georgia individual income tax.”
A person who is at least six weeks pregnant on or after July 20 through December 31, 2022 may list the fetus as a pending on their tax returns starting next year, the agency said. Georgian taxpayers can apply for a $3,000 exemption for each dependent.
This change in policy follows the June decision by the US Supreme Court dismissing Roe v. Wade was repealed and the constitutional right to abortion ended. As a result, an appeals court ruled on July 20 that Georgia’s ban on abortion can become law after six weeks of pregnancy.
Taxpayers must provide the department with relevant medical records or other supporting documentation to prove their filing.
The “Fetal Personality Law” is the idea that a fetus is a person with full constitutional rights from the moment of fertilization. Both Georgia and Arizona have specified this in their abortion laws, but Arizona’s law has been challenged in court.
This change in tax policy has broader implications “from taxes and inheritance rights to education to population numbers,” says Elizabeth Nash, the Guttmacher Institute’s chief policy officer for government affairs.
For now, the policy change only applies to state tax returns. This state law doesn’t affect federal taxes, says Alex Raskolnikov, a professor of tax law at Columbia Law School.
“A state (e.g. GA) cannot dictate federal law. GA’s decision will have no impact on the IRS or the Internal Revenue Code,” he said.
Early critics note that these state policies may raise questions for those who miscarry later in their pregnancy.
Lauren Groh-Wargo, the campaign manager for Georgia gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams, tweeted, “So what happens when you claim your fetus as a dependent and miscarry later in the pregnancy and you’re under investigation for both tax fraud and illegal abortion ?
Georgia’s abortion law allows exceptions for stillbirth, miscarriage, and ectopic pregnancy (which can be fatal).
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