Companies offering to pay their employees’ travel expenses for abortions may run into tax and legal issues.
Already, two companies that offer abortion travel benefits, Lyft and Dick’s Sporting Goods, face civil rights complaints for allegedly discriminating against pregnant employees who chose life for their unborn babies.
Now, lawyers say pro-abortion companies must be careful of U.S. tax law, too.
In an article at Bloomberg Law, attorney Kirsten Vignec with the Florida law firm Hill Ward Henderson said the new abortion benefits may be taxable if abortions are not considered medical care.
If abortions are considered essential medical care (even though they are not), however, the companies’ new “benefits” could be tax write-offs.
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“Recipients of these travel benefits may be able to deduct the actual expenses they incurred that meet the definition of medical care on their individual tax returns,” she wrote.
The provision of these travel benefits raises unique tax issues that must be considered in designing any type of travel expense program.
Whether the employer’s payment or reimbursement of such travel expenses will be considered taxable will depend on whether the travel meets the definition of medical care under the Internal Revenue Code. As defined by the IRC, medical care includes travel that is essential for obtaining legal medical services from a doctor in a licensed hospital or its equivalent. Travel for personal reasons, or for the general well-being of an individual, would not qualify as medical care.
How the company sets up the “benefit” also is important. If a company provides some sort of “non-accountable stipend,” meaning it gives an employee a set amount of money to travel for an abortion potentially without asking for receipts, that stipend would be taxable, Vignec wrote.
Dozens of major companies began providing new pro-abortion benefits in response to the U.S. Supreme Court overturning Roe v. Wade this summer.
For example, the transportation company Lyft now offers to reimburse employees “for travel costs if an employee must travel more than 100 miles for an in-network provider” for an elective abortion, Breitbart reports. Dick’s Sporting Goods recently began offering up to $4,000 for travel expenses for an employee, their spouse or dependents to have an abortion.
Major entertainment companies like Walt Disney, Warner Brothers and Netflix and tech giants like Google, Apple and Microsoft also now offer their employees money to travel to abort their unborn babies. The grocery store chains Giant Eagle and Kroger said they will begin paying employees’ travel costs for abortions, too.
It is likely only a matter of time before companies face lawsuits from states or anti-abortion campaigners claiming that abortion-related payments violate state bans on facilitating or aiding and abetting abortions, according to Robin Fretwell Wilson, a law professor at the University of Illinois and expert on healthcare law.
“If you can sue me as a person for carrying your daughter across state lines, you can sue Amazon for paying for it,” Wilson said.
Most companies couched their pro-abortion stance in terms of “health care,” claiming women need abortions to be healthy and free. But these companies are encouraging the elective, unnecessary killing of unborn babies in abortions through these new benefits.
What women and their babies need is real support, and pro-life advocates are striving to provide it. Along with passing the heartbeat law last year, Texas state lawmakers also increased support for pregnant and parenting mothers and babies, ensuring that they have resources to choose life for their babies. Other states are taking similar actions to expand pregnancy and parenting support, and pro-life advocates across the U.S. are working to offer more help to families in need, through pregnancy centers, maternity homes, and even pregnant and parenting mothers in prison.
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