In Georgia, a Fetus Can Now Be Claimed on a Tax Return

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Pregnant Georgians can now claim a fetus as a dependent on their tax returns.

Pregnant Georgians can now list their fetus as a dependent on their tax returns. A new Guidance related to House Bill 481 specifies that if a heartbeat can be detected the child can be claimed.

(This guidance reflects the recent rulings by the U.S. Supreme Court on June 24, 2022,  and the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals on July 20, 2022.)

In light of the June 24, 2022, U.S. Supreme Court ruling in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization and the July 20, 2022, 11th Circuit Court of Appeals ruling in Sistersong v. Kemp, the Department will recognize any unborn child with a detectable human heartbeat, as defined in O.C.G.A. § 1-2-1, as eligible for the Georgia individual income tax dependent exemption. The 11th Circuit’s ruling made HB 481’s amendment to O.C.G.A § 48-7-26(a), adding an unborn child with a detectable heartbeat to the definition of dependent, effective as of the date of the court’s ruling, which was July 20, 2022.” 

The woman has to be at least six weeks pregnant on or after July 20 thru December 31, 2022, and can be claimed in the amount of $3000 for each dependent.   

The policy change happened after the June overturning of Roe v. Wade reversed the constitutional right for women to have abortions.

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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 (e.g., 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.

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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).



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