Embryos With a Detectable Heartbeat Now Count As Dependents for the Purposes of Tax Returns in Georgia
Expectant parents qualify for a $3,000 exemption
There are many contentious sides to the debate between pro-life and pro-choice groups, and there’s a real sense that we’ve only just begun to see all the knock-on effects from the U.S. Supreme Court overturning Roe V. Wade in June this year.
One such effect emerged in the state of Georgia on August 1 when the Department of Revenue confirmed that it will now recognize embryos with discernible heartbeats as dependents for expectant parents filing their tax returns.
The other side of the ‘heartbeat bill’
Just days ago, Georgia narrowly enacted its controversial ‘heartbeat bill’ which rules that a pregnancy may not be aborted once a heartbeat can be detected. The argument behind that law is presumably that-that is when the embryo is first recognizable as a human life.
The argument follows then, that if an embryo with a heartbeat equates to a human life in that respect, then presumably that human life equates to a living child outside the womb as well, hence the challenge put to the Georgia department of Revenue.
Consistency in interpretation of the law
The ruling from the Department of Revenue in relation to Georgia’s House Bill 481 specifies that effective from July 20, 2022:
…the Department will recognize any unborn child with a detectable human heartbeat… as eligible for the Georgia individual income tax dependent exemption.
As such, on individual income tax returns filed for Tax Year 2022 where, at any time on or after July 20, 2022, and through December 31, 2022, a taxpayer has an unborn child (or children) with a detectable human heartbeat (which may occur as early as six weeks’ gestation), the taxpayer may claim a dependent personal exemption… in the amount of $3,000.00 for each unborn child.
Freedom of choice over tax deductions?
The ruling from the Department of Revenue will be taken as a victory by some, in ensuring that the state government is at least held to account and that it acts consistently in its application of laws and guiding principles.
In Texas for example, a pregnant woman is challenging the state over her right to use the high-occupancy (HOV) lane on freeways with her unborn baby as the justification for there being multiple people in the car. Whether she wins her case remains to be seen.
There will be many however, who feel that the opportunity to claim tax deductions on the basis of the existence of a heartbeat in the womb is of little comfort to those who would rather the freedom of choice over whether to carry the pregnancy to term or not.
Time will tell if other Republican-led states are forced to follow suit or not.
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