Filing Taxes After Pregnancy Loss

Child Tax Credit and Medical Deductions

Thoughtful woman looking out the window
kjekol / Getty Images

Taxes are an inevitability. No matter what else is going on in your life, taxes need to be paid. Unfortunately, in the situation of pregnancy loss, this is no different. Pregnancy loss includes miscarriages, stillbirths, and infant death.

Filing Taxes After a Pregnancy Loss 

A loss of pregnancy is an extremely unfortunate situation that leads to a lot of despair and more questions than answers. After such a situation, the last thing anyone wants to think about is taxes, but unfortunately, they still need to be filed.

After a pregnancy loss, you may be confused about exactly what you are supposed to do on the tax form when it comes to listing dependents. There are a few variables to consider when it comes to filing taxes after a pregnancy loss.

In some cases, you may be able to list your unborn child as a dependent for the tax year that the child was born, even if they did not survive.

Normally, a child can only be listed as a dependent if he or she has a social security number, which most parents typically apply for at the time of the birth of the child. However, if your baby was born and died within the same calendar year, you can use a birth certificate, death certificate, or even hospital records in order to list the child as a dependent.

When a Child Is a Dependent for a Child Tax Credit

  • Your child must be born alive according to the law of the state where you live.
  • A stillborn baby does not qualify.
  • You will need to provide a copy of the birth certificate and the death certificate if your baby does not have a social security number.
  • On the tax form, write DIED in the blank for your dependent’s social security number.
  • You can obtain a copy of your child’s birth and death certificates from the county where he or she was born.
  • It may take several weeks to obtain the necessary paperwork, so plan ahead or file for an extension if necessary.

Medical Deductions Include Care for Miscarriage and Stillbirth

Learning that a child lost through miscarriage or stillbirth doesn't qualify as a dependent for tax credit can add even more stress to a difficult time. Those who have suffered a miscarriage or stillbirth understand that the emotional pain is as great as if you had lost a baby who died shortly after birth.

There are, however, ways in which you can use the tax laws to your advantage. People often disregard looking at medical deductions as they must be at least 10 percent of your adjusted gross income.

Many people are surprised to learn that the expenses they have incurred related to pregnancy loss, especially when added to other family medical and dental expenses, can make itemizing these deductions worthwhile.

Take the time to talk to an accountant or review IRS documents on medical and dental expenses, but some of these costs may include:

  • Any out of pocket expenses related to clinic visits, hospitalizations, or prescribed medications. This includes co-pays and any costs not covered by your insurance plan.
  • You may deduct the mileage traveling to and from your clinic or hospital, and any travel expenses related to your pregnancy.
  • If you are filing as head of household or jointly, any medical expenses for any member of your family not covered by insurance may be added to your costs. This includes costs that are not always obvious such as contact lenses, dental care including braces, and any costs related to a disability in any member of the family, for example, remedial reading for a child with dyslexia.

Bottom Line

This article is not intended to serve as a substitute for professional financial advice regarding the filing of taxes, but rather to bring your attention to an issue you may need to investigate when filing your taxes.

If you have any questions about whether or not you qualify for an exemption, you should contact a professional with expertise in taxes, like an attorney, or a certified public accountant (CPA).

Certainly looking at this article after living through a pregnancy loss may feel overwhelming. You're likely still in the midst of wondering how the world can seemingly go on around you unchanged, while your world changed so much. There is no right or wrong length of time to grieve, only that which is right for you. In addition, taking the time to grieve appears to be healthy in the long run. Other than filing taxes, which can have ramifications if you do not, allow yourself this time to grieve and be gentle and easy on yourself. You may wish to look at these steps discussing emotional recovery after stillbirth.

In addition to your family and friends, there are other ways to get the support you need at this time. Check out some of these ​organizations which provide support for those who have suffered pregnancy loss. A few of these organizations, in fact, focus entirely on helping people cope with the grief related to pregnancy loss.

3 Sources
Verywell Family uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Internal Revenue Service. Publication 972 (2018), Child Tax Credit and Credit for Other Dependents.

  2. Internal Revenue Service. Topic 502 – Medical and Dental Expenses.

  3. Kersting A, Wagner B. Complicated grief after perinatal lossDialogues Clin Neurosci. 2012;14(2):187-194.

By Elizabeth Czukas, RN, MSN
Elizabeth Czukas is a writer who who has worked as an RN in high-risk obstetrics, antepartum care, and with women undergoing pregnancy loss.