The true-life story of a baby born early to dodge taxes

August 14, 2013
For the record, I totally believe that Lily Aldrin from How I Met Your Mother would time a birth for maximum tax benefits. (CBS)
For the record, I totally believe that Lily Aldrin from "How I Met Your Mother" would time a birth for maximum tax benefits. (CBS)

A number of commenters reacted incredulously to Monday's post on research suggesting that women may be choosing to have children in December rather than January for tax reasons. "Surely no mother would be so silly!" the argument goes.

There are good theoretical responses to this. People often respond to all kinds of incentives that they'd never admit to responding to in specific cases. Moreover, the effect is confined to women with due-dates in the late December, early January range, and the most recent research suggests that $1,000 in incentives is only enough to boost the probability of December birth by 1 percent. That's not a whole lot of mothers responding to incentives.

But now there's a more concrete refutation of this line of reasoning. Marc Goldwein, who Wonkblog superfans will remember is the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget's (CRFB) resident budget wonk and an official Friend-of-the-Blog, reports that he was a tax break baby. He was born before the Child Tax Credit and so the only tax benefit his mom got from an early birth was an $1,000 dependent exemption. But that was enough. "I was born on December 31st at 11:55pm," Marc e-mails. "Apparently, my mother was told she could deliver in December and get the tax benefit (at that point, just a dependent exemption) or she could wait and be in the newspaper as having the first baby of the new year. She chose money over fame."

This confirms two things: (a) the Goldwein family has economics in its genome and (b) this is an actual thing that has happened at least once. Take that, doubters!

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Ezra Klein · August 14, 2013