ATLANTA –The Georgia Department of Revenue issued new guidance Tuesday explaining how the state’s new abortion law will affect taxes.
The so-called “heartbeat law” bans most abortions in Georgia after about six weeks of pregnancy. It also redefines “person” to include an unborn child, with implications for a number of areas of Georgia law, including taxes.
“The department will recognize any unborn child with a detectable human heartbeat … as eligible for the Georgia individual income tax dependent exemption,” the department said in a news release.
Any taxpayer who is carrying an unborn child with a detectable heartbeat can claim the child as a dependent for the current tax year. The exemption is $3,000 for each unborn child.
For the 2022 tax year, the law applies to any taxpayer carrying an unborn child with detectable heartbeat between July 20, 2022, when the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the Georgia abortion law, and Dec. 31, 2022.
The revenue department said taxpayers could be asked to provide medical or other supporting documentation to prove the presence of an unborn child.
The department said it will issue additional guidance on the new law later this year.
Abortion opponents in Georgia see the new definition of personhood as a key victory and innovation.
“Personhood … is extremely important because we are the first in the country to get this passed and … upheld,” said Martha Zoller, executive director of the Georgia Life Alliance.
But others contend the new definition of person may have unintended consequences. It could result in higher insurance expenses for pregnant women, said Carliss Chatman, an associate professor of law at Washington and Lee University.
“What stops an insurance provider from declaring that there are now two separate people?” Chatman asked. The insurer could charge two deductibles (for the mother and unborn child) from six weeks of pregnancy, she said.
The new law could also have implications for immigration and birthright citizenship, Chatman said.
“If one can claim the child on Georgia state taxes when there is a fetal heartbeat, is Georgia also acknowledging the citizenship of that fetus at six weeks?”
Although the abortion law was upheld by the federal circuit court last month, it is now being challenged in state court on privacy and other grounds. The next hearing in the matter is set for Monday in Fulton County Superior Court.
This story is available through a news partnership with Capitol Beat News Service, a project of the Georgia Press Educational Foundation.