Georgia says residents can claim embryos as dependents on their tax returns
Residents of Georgia can claim embryos as dependents on their tax returns, according to guidance issued Monday by tax officials in the state.
The Georgia Department of Revenue said it released the tax rules in light of the Supreme Court's June ruling overturning Roe v. Wade and of the state's abortion ban, which went into effect last month and describes an embryo as a "natural person," granting it personhood status.
The agency said that as of July 20 it would recognize "any unborn child with a detectable human heartbeat" as eligible for the state's individual income tax dependent exemption.
That means would-be parents may claim embryos as dependents after as early as six weeks gestation. Claiming a dependent on their tax return allows Georgia residents to receive a $3,000 dependent personal exemption for each embryo. So someone who is expecting twins could claim $6,000 under the new guidance.
Georgia residents should be ready to provide medical records or other documentation if the state's Department of Revenue wants to see evidence, the guidance notes.
But the policy raises a host of questions, according to Anthony Michael Kreis, a Georgia State University law professor and political scientist, who tweeted that the state's tax department "will be part of the healthcare surveillance state."
"And given that between 10 and 15 percent of pregnancies end in miscarriages, state tax workers will have their work cut out for them," he wrote.
Under the federal tax code, by contrast, a child must be have been born to be claimed on a parent's tax filing. But some Republican lawmakers have pushed to change IRS rules to allow people to claim tax credits for fetuses, such as one bill earlier this year that proposes to let people claim Child Tax Credit payments for embryos.
The concept of "personhood" has legal implications for the rights of a fetus versus those of the parent, and is a longstanding issue on both sides of the abortion debate. Following the Supreme Court's ruling in Roe v. Wade and with more states restricting abortions or granting "personhood" status to fetuses, questions are arising about how fetuses should be treated under the law.
In one high-profile case last month, a pregnant Texas woman who was ticketed for driving in a high-occupancy vehicle lane chose to dispute the fine, claiming her unborn baby should count as a second person following the Supreme Court's decision.
Some Republican lawmakers also want to change laws around child support, introducing a bill last month that would require prospective fathers to pay child support from the moment of conception.
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