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State Senate members unanimously approved a tax exemption for those who endured a stillborn death.

A bill will allow those dozens of North Dakotans on average per year to claim a tax exemption to ease the fiscal cost of such an experience.

House Bill 1239 passed 47-0 without and floor debate; the bill passed the House in January by a 90-0 vote. The bill now heads to Gov. Doug Burgum’s desk.

HB1239 would allow parents of a stillborn child to qualify for a tax exemption that families file for their living children, when they file a fetal death certificate. The tax exemption would be for one year, the year in which the stillbirth occurred.

Bill carrier Sen. Brad Bekkedahl, R-Williston, said in North Dakota there are an average of 49 stillborn births each year.

“As tragic as it is, it’s not that many that occur out there, which we are thankful for,” Bekkedahl said.

Federal law doesn’t allow for claiming stillborn children on U.S. tax forms. North Dakota, once signed into law, would join at least five states that allow for a one-time tax credit or deduction.

The deduction would be equal to the federal deduction for a qualifying child, which Bekkedahl said for tax year 2017 is $4,050.

Proponents of HB1239 in committee testimony said it would help in a small way ease the fiscal burden of those who deal with the hospital costs of childbirth, followed shortly thereafter by having to arrange a funeral.

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(Reach Nick Smith at 701-250-8255 or 701-223-8482 or at nick.smith@bismarcktribune.com.)

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