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Pregnant Georgians can now list their fetuses as a dependent on their tax returns.
The Georgia Department of Revenue released new guidance this week establishing that the agency “will recognize any unborn child with a detectable human heartbeat … as eligible for the Georgia individual income tax dependent exemption.”
An individual at least six weeks pregnant on or after July 20 through Dec. 31, 2022, can list the fetus as a dependent on their tax returns starting next year, the agency said. Georgian taxpayers can claim an exemption in the amount of $3,000 for each dependent.
This policy change follows the US Supreme Court’s decision in June that overturned Roe v. Wade and ended the constitutional right to an abortion. Following that, an appeals court ruled on July 20 that Georgia’s ban on abortion after six weeks of pregnancy can become law.
Taxpayers will have to submit relevant medical records or other supporting documentation to the department in order to provide their filing.
The “fetal personhood law” is the idea that a fetus is a person with full constitutional rights from the moment of fertilization. Both Georgia and Arizona established this in their abortion laws, but Arizona’s statute has been challenged in court.
This tax policy change has far wider implications “from taxes and inheritance rights to education to population counts,” says Elizabeth Nash, the Guttmacher Institute’s principal policy associate for state issues.
For now, the policy change only applies to state tax returns. This state law has no effect on federal taxes, says Alex Raskolnikov, a professor of tax law at Columbia Law School.
“A state (eg, GA) cannot dictate federal law. GA’s decision will have no impact of the IRS or the Internal Revenue Code,” he says.
Early critics note that this state policy may create questions for those who miscarry further along in their pregnancy.
Lauren Groh-Wargo, the campaign manager for Georgia governor candidate Stacey Abrams, tweeted: “So what happens when you claim your fetus as a dependent and then miscarry later in the pregnancy, you get investigated both for tax fraud and an illegal abortion?”
Georgia’s abortion law does allow exceptions for stillbirths, miscarriages and ectopic pregnancies (which can be deadly).