Home / News / Michigan Republicans trying to pass law that would give tax breaks (i.e. personhood) to fetuses
Michigan Republicans trying to pass law that would give tax breaks (i.e. personhood) to fetuses

Michigan Republicans trying to pass law that would give tax breaks (i.e. personhood) to fetuses

In Michigan, HB 5684 and HB 5685 are bills that would give tax breaks to fetuses.  Yes, to fetuses.   Under these bills, any woman who is carrying a fetus over 12 weeks would get tax breaks in excess of 4,000.00. These bills are nothing more than cloaked "personhood" bills, as they assign personhood status to the fetus for the purposes of tax deductions.   HB 5684, sponsored by State Representative Lisa Lyons (R), reads as follows:

Sec. 30e. As used in section 30(3) 30, "dependent" means an individual for whom the taxpayer may claim a dependency exemption on the taxpayer's federal income tax return pursuant to the internal revenue code. DEPENDENT INCLUDES A FETUS THAT HAS, ASDETERMINED BY A PHYSICIAN, COMPLETED AT LEAST 12 WEEKS OF GESTATION AS OF THE LAST DAY OF THE TAX YEAR, AND THAT HAS BEEN UNDER THE CARE AND OBSERVATION OF A PHYSICIAN SINCE AT LEAST 12 WEEKS OFGESTATION. FOR PURPOSES OF THIS SECTION:

(A) "FETUS" MEANS AN INDIVIDUAL ORGANISM OF THE SPECIES HOMO SAPIENS AT ANY TIME BEFORE COMPLETE DELIVERY FROM A PREGNANT WOMAN.

(B) "PHYSICIAN" MEANS AN INDIVIDUAL LICENSED TO ENGAGE IN THE PRACTICE OF MEDICINE OR THE PRACTICE OF OSTEOPATHIC MEDICINE AND SURGERY UNDER ARTICLE 15 OF THE PUBLIC HEALTH CODE, 1978 PA 368, MCL 333.16101 TO 333.18838.

The fact they had to  define that the fetus has to be from "homo sapiens" leaves a lot to imagine (would a woman be carrying a dog, or a kitten?), and the amount of paperwork necessary to verify that said woman is in fact over 12 weeks, to be verified (no doubt there's a state form for that), by a physician as named above, seems to imply that it would cost a fair amount of state money to actually implement these laws. (HB 5685  is a complementary bill regarding adjusted gross income to include fetuses as dependents).  Both bills are tied together, meaning both would have to be passed to be implemented.

And in fact, the House Fiscal Agency stated in a report that these bills alone would reduce income tax revenue (i.e. cost millions).

FISCAL IMPACT:

As written, the bills would initially be expected to reduce individual income tax revenue

by an estimated $5.0 million to $10.0 million on an annual basis.

 Reproductive Health Reality Check adds that apparently the results of the election did not dissuade Michigan Republicans from abstaining on their war on women:

When she first heard about the new proposal to offer a $160 tax credit to any woman who was at least 12 weeks pregnant at the end of the year, Democratic Representative Barb Byrum found the idea incomprehensible.

"Clearly they learned nothing in June from 'vagina-gate,'" Rep. Byrum told RH Reality Check, referring to the summer's omnibus abortion bill debate, where multiple female House members were silenced by their Republican counterparts for daring to say the word "vagina" on the floor.

"Again, the Republicans are so out of touch," Rep. Byrum continued. "We need to be focused on creating jobs in the state. Last year, we voted to eliminate the child tax credit, which is about $600 a child on one hand, and now we are planning to give $160 credit to a fetus? This is absurd."

Just as confusing is the lack of clarity as to how one would even go about claiming the "fetal credit." "Some of the questions I have is would there be an affidavit from a doctor? Would a woman require an ultrasound to confirm the fetus had reached 12 weeks? What considerations would there be for a woman if the pregnancy was terminated? This is just bizarre."

Considering the costs that even the state of Michigan admits the bills would incur, this seems to be yet another attempt to open the door to personhood bills.  Yet Republican State Representative Judd Gilbert, the sponsor of HB 5485, claims it is a benign bill that would actually help women pay the expenses associated with having a child:

"You’re recognizing the fact that people have additional expenses, another person to take care of," Gilbert said of the rationale behind allowing fetuses to be claimed as income tax exemptions. "Money saved there could be contributed to doctor’s bills and all kinds of things."

Mary Pollock of the Michigan chapter of NOW disagrees:

"In our view these bills are an attempt to give some legal recognition to the unborn in tax law, which would then be used as a reason to give legal recognition to the unborn in other contexts such as in criminal law or in health law," said Mary Pollock of the National Organization of Women's Michigan chapter. "And so they are a not so subtle reason to establish personhood for a fetus at 12 weeks gestation so that abortion could be banned or punished thereafter."

 Meanwhile, the Michigan Legislature cut the Child Tax Credit  for actual children.  This definitely sends a mixed message to the electorate–are fetuses more valuable than living, breathing children?  Michigan has gone on record as trying to pass some of the most draconian anti-abortion measures in the nation. 
And the important question–could it actually be passed?  The Tea Party dominated Legislature could actually do it.  Which should make the next election season that much more interesting.

About Dakota O'Leary

Dakota O'Leary is a freethinker, and often sassy, scholar of theology and literature. She got her Bachelor of Arts degree in English and Theology from the State University of New York College at Buffalo, and her Master of Arts degree in Theology and Literature from Antioch University-Midwest. She is a contributing writer focusing on eschatology, biblical prophecy, and general religious news. Dakota is a co-host of the God Discussion radio show, offering insight to the news stories of the week. We like to call her "our in-house Biblical prophecy expert" as her articles on eschatology have received over 200,000 views on God Discussion.
  • Deborah_B

    Why am I not surprised? No matter how many times these so-called personhood amendments and their proponents are voted down, the Republicans keep pushing them.

  • William Wilberforce

    Hold on, so you proaborts are against giving women, many of them single moms a tax break to help them with the multitude of costs that pregnancy entails? It seems like you would rather encourage abortion than advocate for women who need help during pregnancy…

    • Deborah_B

      The revoked $600 child tax credit makes much, much more sense than a $160 credit for a 12-week fetus.

    • Spuddie

      Like you give a damn about anyone after they are born? Please cut the bullcrap.

      Of course its nonsensical, contradictory but fully in line with the mix of religious and greedy agendas to offer legal status to the unborn with a small incentive yet make life as difficult as possible to those same people after they are born.

      Personhood laws are inherently silly by nature. They aren't fooling anyone. They are an attempt to circumvent the unconstitutionality of an abortion ban. By doing so they have extra side effects of harming various fertility treatments, create ridiculous criminal causes of action and show no regard for the liberties of women.

  • Hypocrites!

    I thought Republicans were against welfare (tax credit would be welfare because it requires the rest of us to subsidize someone else's pregnancy)? Oh that's right, they don't care when it's to advance their Fundamentalist Religious nonsense. What blatant hypocrites! They don't want the tax credit, they want to call a fetus that lacks a central nervous system, and therefore a consciousness, a "person". A field mouse is more of a "person" than a twelve week old fetus because a field mouse actually has an awareness of itself and it's environment. Sorry, but if a living thing (i.e. bacteria, sperm, zygote, etc.) has no consciousness or awareness, it is not a person or an individual with any kind of identity.

    Quit listening to your huckster pa$tor and reading ancient fables, sheeple. Get an education. It's easy! We do live in the Information Age, after all.

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