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H.R. 3549 (115th): Savannah Hope Stillbirth Child Tax Credit Act

Every parent in America is eligible for a tax credit for their child — even a child who dies within minutes after birth. So what about for a child who dies during birth, or minutes before?

Context

About 24,000 children are born stillborn each year in the U.S., meaning they’re dead from the time of birth. That represents about 1% of U.S. births each year.

Fortunately, that numbers has plummeted in recent decades, although any number above zero is still too high.

Any parent can claim the federal Child Tax Credit on their taxes, which is currently worth $2,000 per child under age 17. However, that tax credit does not apply to stillborn children.

At least seven states, and not all red states, have added a stillborn tax credit on a state level: Arizona, Michigan, Indiana, Missouri, Minnesota and North Dakota.

What the bills do

Two bills in the current Congress would extend the existing federal yearlong $2,000 Child Tax Credit to parents of stillborn children.

The Savannah Hope Stillbirth Child Tax Credit Act [H.R. 3549] was introduced in July 2017 by Rep. Erik Paulsen (R-MN3).

H.R. 7208, which does not currently have an official title, was introduced on November 30 by Rep. Morgan Griffith (R-VA9).

What supporters say

Supporters argue the legislation is only fair, given the financial investments that parents make in the months leading up to birth — not to mention that the tax credit is available for children who are born alive but die within their first year.

“This is unfair to the families of stillborn babies. The mother carries her baby for months, the family prepares for the baby’s arrival (room preparation, cribs, clothes, etc.),” Rep. Griffith wrote in a weekly letter to constituents. “And even though the child has died, the families are subject to bills for their and their child’s care throughout the pregnancy.”

“In addition, some families of stillborn babies pay for funerals… All told, the bills amount to a substantial financial expense,” Rep. Griffith continued. “The emotional costs can’t be quantified but are high, and the financial costs are also difficult.”

GovTrack Insider was unable to locate direct statements of opposition.

State level bills on the issue passed in Michigan unanimously and in North Dakota unanimously. (North Dakota, while a red state, still has 21 Democrats in its general assembly.)

Odds of passage

Griffith’s more recent bill has so far attracted three House cosponsors, all Republicans. It awaits a potential vote in the House Ways and Means Committee.

Paulsen’s 2017 bill has so far attracted three bipartisan House cosponsors, two Democrats and one Republican. It also awaits a potential vote in the House Ways and Means Committee.

Last updated Dec 3, 2018. View all GovTrack summaries.

The summary below was written by the Congressional Research Service, which is a nonpartisan division of the Library of Congress, and was published on Jul 28, 2017.


Savannah Hope Stillbirth Child Tax Credit Act

This bill amends the Internal Revenue Code, with respect to the child tax credit, to allow an additional $2,000 refundable tax credit for each birth by the taxpayer of a stillborn child during the taxable year.