Health Team

Discrepancy found in Missouri stillborn baby tax exemptions

Posted October 7

— A review has found a discrepancy in the number of state tax deductions awarded to Missouri families who claimed they had stillborn babies compared with the number of fetal deaths recorded by the state health department.

Missouri officials awarded deductions to 1,400 families who claimed they had a stillborn child in 2015. But the St. Louis Post-Dispatch ( ) reported that its review found the health department recorded only 460 fetal deaths last year.

The measure, which was passed last year, allows a one-time exemption of $1,200 from a parent's income. That is the same amount taxpayers can claim for each dependent on tax returns. The exemption is at the center of a 2015 law designed to ease some of the pain when a family has a stillborn child.

Sen. Ed Emery said the discrepancy in the numbers will be the subject of a legislative inquiry when the House and Senate return to action in January.

"I find it kind of flabbergasting that there were so many more deductions than what the health department reported," Emery said. "Something's going on I think we'll need to look into."

Under Missouri law, a parent can apply for a stillbirth certificate after 20 weeks of pregnancy or if the fetus reaches a certain weight. A pregnancy is generally deemed a miscarriage if the fetus dies before 20 weeks.

The Missouri Department of Revenue will determine if any of the returns don't qualify for the exemption when the IRS provides data on federal returns, spokeswoman Michele Gleba said. The federal data review will help the state compare the number of dependents on tax returns and check to see if a stillbirth certificate is attached to the return to match the deduction, she said.


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