Michigan may soon become the first state in the U.S. to allow expecting parents to claim fetuses that are at least 12 weeks old as dependents for state income tax purposes.
State lawmakers discussed the new legislation, House Bill 5684 and House Bill 5685, at a House Tax Policy Committee on Tuesday. If passed, the bills would allow expectant parents to claim a $3,700 tax deduction. The only stipulation is the fetus must have been “under the care and observation of a physician since at least 12 weeks of gestation” before the end of the tax year.
Backed by Michigan House Republicans, Rep. Lisa Posthumus Lyons and Rep. Jud Gilbert, the legislation is designed to help expecting parents offset the cost of pregnancy.
“You’re recognizing the fact that people have additional expenses, another person to take care of,” Gilbert told MLive.com. “Money saved there could be contributed to doctor’s bills and all kinds of things.”
And because current law allows parents to receive a tax exemption after a child is born, Gilbert considers this new exemption an extension of existing law.
Democratic critics are already questioning the motive of the legislation, suggesting giving legal recognition to a fetus in tax law could translate to criminal or health law, and thus affect women’s abortion rights.
The bills are initially expected to reduce tax revenue between $5 million and $10 million a year in the state.
The Republicans will lead the legislature’s “lame duck” session, which begins next week and concludes in December. Any bill that is not passed by the end of this year dies.