Georgia says an 'unborn child' can be claimed as a dependent on state taxes

By Nouran Salahieh and Chuck Johnston, CNN

(CNN) -- Georgians can now claim an "unborn child" as a dependent on their state taxes, the state's Department of Revenue announced this week.

Residents filing their 2022 tax returns who had fetuses with detectable heartbeats at six weeks of pregnancy can claim a dependent personal exemption in the amount of $3,000, the department said on Monday.

The announcement follows the US Supreme Court's landmark decision overturning Roe v. Wade, eliminating the federal constitutional right to abortion, and the subsequent ruling by the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals that allowed a Georgia law banning abortions as early as six weeks of pregnancy to take effect.

Georgia House Bill 481 -- dubbed the "Living Infants Fairness and Equality Act" -- was signed into law by Republican Gov. Brian Kemp in 2019. It banned the procedure at six weeks, before many women know they're pregnant. A federal judge then ruled it unconstitutional and blocked it. However, after Roe v. Wade was overturned, the federal appeals court allowed it to take effect.

Under the law, embryos are considered "natural persons" with "full legal recognition" and "shall be included in certain population based determinations."

After the ruling, the definition of a dependent in Georgia was amended to include an "unborn child" with a detectable heartbeat -- effective the date of the federal appeals court's July 20 ruling, the Department of Revenue said.

Taxpayers will have to be prepared to provide "relevant medical records or other supporting documentation" to support the dependent deduction claimed, the department said. It did not specify what those documents would be.

It's unclear how the tax filings will play out for pregnancies that don't come to term, or how it affects surrogates and unmarried parents living separately. The guidance released from the Revenue Department did not address miscarriages, but it said tax return instructions will be issued later this year.

The Georgia changes highlight the swirling debate over how to define "personhood" in the aftermath of Roe v. Wade.

A federal judge recently blocked a "personhood" provision in an existing abortion ban in Arizona, forbidding the state from using it to impose penalties for abortions that would otherwise be legal under existing Arizona law.

In Texas, a pregnant woman who got a ticket for driving in the HOV lane in Texas argued her pregnancy meant she was not alone in the car but in fact had a passenger. Texas has pushed to restrict abortion and has defined a fetus or unborn baby as a "person" in its penal code.

The-CNN-Wire
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