NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Maternity And The IRS

July 1, 1999

Many American women, mindful of the requirements of the tax code, are choosing to deliver their babies in time to enjoy a tax benefit. Specifically, they can use cesarean section or induced labor to assure birth in the last week of December -- rather than the first week of January. That is the conclusion of economists Stacy Dickert-Conlin and Amitabh Chandra in a study published in the Journal of Political Economy.

  • A child born on December 31 allows the parents to enjoy all the tax benefits of being born anytime during that year -- while a child born one day later, in the next calendar and tax year, provides no tax benefits for the previous year.
  • Statistics show that the number of births in the last week of December is greater than those in the first week of January.
  • The researchers point to the fact that many more children are born on Tuesdays and Wednesdays than on Saturdays and Sundays to establish that women are willing to use cesarean sections and induced labor to fit a birth into their chosen schedule.
  • A single woman with $10,000 in adjusted gross income in 1996 reduced her tax burden by $2,670 with the birth of her first child -- while a married couple with an income of $50,000 saved just $382.50.

The tax benefits to parents of December births take three forms: the personal exemption, the earned income tax credit and the standard deduction.

Since insurance covers most child births, the difference in cost for speeding up delivery doesn't come out of the mother's pocket.

Source: Macroscope, "Of Taxes and Birthdays," Investor's Business Daily, July 1, 1999.


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