Family Tax Deduction
H.B. 4644 was voted on by the House on June 23, 2021 and was referred to the Senate Finance committee. On May 11, 2021, a hearing was held for H.B. 4644 in the House Committee on Families, Seniors and Children. A substitute version of the bill was adopted. Right to Life of Michigan submitted a card of support. The committee approved the bill on May 18, 2021. H.B. 4644 and S.B. 366 were introduced on April 15, 2021. H.B. 4644 was referred to the House Families, Seniors and Children Committee, and S.B. 366 was referred to the Senate Finance Committee.
H.B. 4644 was amended in a committee substitute on May 11, 2021 and will now allow a pregnant woman to claim an exemption on her income taxes for a pregnancy rather than claiming the unborn child as a dependent. This is a change from the original bill and from S.B. 366 which allows each unborn child to be claimed as a dependent. The realized tax benefit is the same, except that multiples would only be counted as one exemption rather than as individual dependents. H.B. 4644 & S.B. 366 are identical bills that would allow an unborn child to be claimed as a dependent on his or her parents’ tax returns provided the mother has reached 12 weeks gestation and is under the care of a physician.
Prenatal care has real costs associated with it. For some women, prenatal care is delayed due to financial restraints or for hesitancy to engage with the medical profession. By allowing parents to claim their unborn child as an exemption on their income tax returns, it provides a potential financial incentive to seek prenatal care in the first trimester. In addition to the financial incentive, it recognizes the unborn child as a member of the family and has the potential to reduce both maternal mortality and fetal loss as prenatal care is sought earlier in the pregnancy.
While the unborn child is not granted full protection under the law due to Roe v. Wade and abortion in other places in the law, unborn children are legally recognized. In the Prenatal Protection Act, the unborn child is recognized by criminalizing assaultive acts against pregnant women which harm an unborn child. The unborn child is also recognized as a potential heir of an estate and can be assigned a guardian ad litem in court proceedings. Recognition of an unborn child for the purposes of an exemption falls in line with other areas of law which recognize him/her under certain circumstances.