By: Shailee Diwanji
Fancy filing away that receipt for your hush-hush abortion along with your latest business entertainment expenses? The No Taxpayer Funding For Abortion Act might just make it so you have to. This bill, introduced by representatives Dan Lipinski (D-Ill.) and Chris Smith (R-N.J.), has significant support from the GOP (and some Democrats) and is expected to sail through the House of Representatives. Slightly modified from its original version, which only recognized "forcible" rape, the bill now focuses on federal funding for abortions with some flagrantly ill-devised consequences. The bill mandates that federal funds not be used to fund an abortion, unless it was the result of rape or incest, or seriously endangers the life of the mother.
In a marked departure from the GOP's traditional take on tax breaks, which asserts that tax break money belongs to the taxpayer, in this bill, the GOP furthers the idea that tax credits and deductions are federal funds. Enter IRS. Although vague in its description of enforcement measures, the bill could result in creating a new role for IRS agents - the abortion police. The Joint Tax Committee offered various different interpretations of the bill and how it would affect the tax code. The worst of these would be questions on tax forms ("Have you had an abortion? Did you keep your receipt?") or IRS audits, with victims of rape having to relive their ordeals in conversations with IRS agents. The taxpayer, probably a woman, would have to provide proof of the incident and corroborate facts about the abortion, rape, and etcetera. The IRS won't comment on bills, but it's certain IRS agents will not enjoy this new role.
Critics of this bill attack its poor word-choice and want of clarity, and the drafters of this bill have refused to comment on it. Although pro-life groups claim they are interested solely in regulating federal funding for abortions, the bill, if it becomes law, will definitely affect the tax code and the health insurance industry (the bill has an entire section on tax benefits!). Employers may not be able to take tax deductions for health plans offering abortion coverage (the largest tax break for businesses), and the resulting lack of demand for these plans could result in no private insurance coverage for abortions. Despite strong support, the fate of this bill remains to be seen. But as the country tracks the progress of this bill, don't forget, dear taxpayer, to keep your receipt for that abortion.
TMA Staff Writer