Tax credit for parent of stillborn child proposed

The parent of a stillborn child could claim a state income tax credit under a bill heard Feb. 5 by the Revenue Committee.

<a href='http://news.legislature.ne.gov/dist17' target='_blank' title='Link to the website of Sen. Joni Albrecht'>Sen. Joni Albrecht</a>
Sen. Joni Albrecht

LB597, introduced by Sen. Joni Albrecht of Thurston, would provide for a $2,000 refundable income tax credit for the parent of a stillborn child if a fetal death certificate is filed for the child, the child had advanced to at least the 20th week of gestation and the child would have been a dependent of the individual claiming the credit.

It would be allowed for the taxable year in which the stillbirth occurred, starting with taxable years beginning Jan. 1, 2022.

State Department of Health and Human Services records indicate that approximately 150 fetal deaths occur at 20 weeks’ gestation or later each year in Nebraska. Using that data, the state Department of Revenue estimates that the bill would reduce state general fund revenue by approximately $300,000 each year beginning in fiscal year 2022-23.

After paying hospital expenses for a stillbirth, some families cannot afford a funeral and burial for their child, Albrecht said.

“By advancing LB597,” she said, “we can support families at a time of immense grief and ensure proper recognition for the loss of life.”

Holly Stutzman testified in support of the bill, saying stillborn deliveries often require additional surgery to save the mother’s life, increasing costs. After she delivered her stillborn daughter nine years ago, Stutzman said, she and her husband found that hospital expenses had depleted their savings.

“I would not have been able to pay for the burial or the funeral of my daughter had it not been for the generosity of family and friends,” she said.

Marion Miner testified in support of LB597 on behalf of the Nebraska Catholic Conference. He said the state and federal governments recognize through tax credits the financial costs that families bear to raise their children.

“LB597 is a recognition of the costs borne by families who have lost a child as well,” Miner said.

No one testified in opposition to the bill and the committee took no immediate action on it.

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