Tax deduction for the unborn passes Senate in bill destined to be vetoed

By: - November 8, 2023 5:10 am

Sen. Kelda Roys (D-Madison) speaks in opposition to a bill that would allow a tax deduction for the unborn. (Screenshot | WisEye)

The state Senate passed legislation Tuesday declaring that expectant parents can take a deduction on their state income taxes months before the birth of a child.

Debate on the measure, SB-344, was one-sided during the eight minutes it was up for a vote. The only lawmaker to speak about it was a Democratic opponent. Gov. Tony Evers is expected to veto the bill if it reaches his desk.

“A child’s life begins at conception,” said the author, Sen. Romaine Quinn (R-Cameron), at a public hearing for the bill in September. The bill would allow a taxpayer to “submit proof of a heartbeat with their taxes to be eligible and claim the dependent deduction.”

The bill would also lift the current state income tax exemption of $700 per dependent to $1,000.

As written, Sen. Kelda Roys (D-Madison) said on the Senate floor Tuesday, the legislation “is a harmful bill that will do nothing to help working families who are struggling to make ends meet, but will help advance the anti-choice agenda of eliminating access to abortion and reproductive freedom.”

The bill is “part of a national strategy to chip away at abortion rights and ultimately establish legal personhood for embryos and fetuses so that embryos and fetuses have rights under the law — and of course, the pregnant woman has fewer,” Roys said. “It’s designed to look like a benefit for pregnant women. But it’s actually laying the groundwork for eliminating access to abortion and reproductive rights, and even forms of contraception.”

As an alternative, Roys, along with the Senate’s other 10 Democrats, proposed a substitute amendment replacing all of the bill’s language with an increase in the state’s child care tax credit, allowing families to take a credit for each eligible child. Currently the tax credit is available either for one child or for two children; families with more than two children don’t get a credit for the additional children.  

“This is something that we can actually do to help working families and not engage in the debate about whether or not abortion rights should be protected or criminalized,” Roys said.

The Senate voted on party lines 21-10 to reject the substitute, then without further discussion passed the bill on a vote of 20-11. One Republican, Sen. Mary Felzkowski (R-Tomahawk), joined with the Democrats in voting against the bill.


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Erik Gunn
Erik Gunn

Deputy Editor Erik Gunn reports and writes on work and the economy, health policy and related subjects, for the Wisconsin Examiner. He spent 24 years as a freelance writer for Milwaukee Magazine, Isthmus, The Progressive, BNA Inc., and other publications, winning awards for investigative reporting, feature writing, beat coverage, business writing, and commentary.