Georgia Law Says Parents Can Claim An ‘Unborn Child’ As A Dependent On Tax Returns

Activists rally outside the State Capitol in support of abortion rights in Atlanta, Georgia on May 14, 2022. - Thousands of activists are participating in a national day of action calling for safe and legal access to... Activists rally outside the State Capitol in support of abortion rights in Atlanta, Georgia on May 14, 2022. - Thousands of activists are participating in a national day of action calling for safe and legal access to abortion. The nationwide demonstrations are a response to leaked draft opinion showing the US Supreme Court's conservative majority is considering overturning Roe v. Wade, the 1973 ruling guaranteeing abortion access. (Photo by Elijah Nouvelage / AFP) (Photo by ELIJAH NOUVELAGE/AFP via Getty Images) MORE LESS

The Georgia Department of Revenue released guidance on Monday saying that it will recognize “any unborn child with a detectable human heartbeat” as eligible for the state’s individual income tax dependent exemption.

The guidance said a fetus can be listed as a dependent on tax returns starting next week if the person filing taxes was or will be at least six weeks pregnant on or after July 20 through Dec. 31, 2022. Taxpayers in Georgia can claim an exemption in the amount of $3,000 for each fetus. Taxpayers are required to provide medical records or other supporting documentation.

The guidance does not indicate what happens if a pregnancy results in a miscarriage. It says that additional information will be issued later this year.

The guidance was issued after a federal appeals court upheld Georgia’s abortion ban after six weeks of pregnancy last month, following the Supreme Court’s ruling in June that overturned Roe v. Wade, ending the constitutional right to abortion access. The appeals court also upheld a fetal personhood provision in the law, rejecting arguments that it was unconstitutionally vague.

Georgia’s abortion ban was initially approved in 2019 by the state House, but was deemed unconstitutional due to the protections granted by Roe at the time. It bans most abortions after six weeks of pregnancy, which is usually the timeframe when doctors can start to detect cardiac activity in the embryo. The law makes exceptions for pregnancies caused by rape and incest if a police report is filed, as well as pregnancies that endanger the pregnant person’s life or could cause serious harm, though not harm based “on a diagnosis or claim of a mental or emotional condition.” The law does not ban terminations of nonviable pregnancies or ectopic pregnancies.

The guidance comes as the federal government has pushed back at the overturn of Roe.

On Tuesday, the Justice Department sued the state of Idaho over new abortion restrictions that allegedly endanger the lives of pregnant people, following the state’s impending enforcement of its “trigger” abortion ban in the wake of the overturn of Roe. The Idaho law bans abortions in all cases, with the exception of documented cases of rape or when “deemed necessary to prevent the death of the pregnant woman.”

The Biden administration has also issued directives to health care providers reminding them that federal law ensures abortion access. Last month, HHS sent memos to tens of thousands of pharmacies to warn that refusing to fill prescriptions for contraception or abortion medication or discriminating against a person based on their pregnancy status would put the pharmacy at risk of violating federal civil rights law.

HHS also issued a letter last month to health care providers informing them that they are federally required to offer abortion services if the pregnant person’s life is at risk, saying federal law preempts state laws or mandates that have banned the procedure in the wake Roe’s demise.

Additionally, the DOJ announced last month the formation of a special team called the Reproductive Rights Task Force, which is set to launch efforts to find ways for the federal government to protect reproductive health care and abortion rights in response to the Supreme Court’s overturn of Roe.

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