I must apologize first for neglecting this blog. Writing has been so therapeutic for me and I always have the desire to write. The problem that I am having is that finding the time and level of focus required has become difficult. I have several posts in my head – they are coming, I promise.
I feel that this post is important for several reasons. First, I want to get my own thoughts and feelings out on the subject. Also, I feel this can be one of the most educational posts I write, and I am hoping that at least one other family will benefit from my story.
For our taxes this year, Hackie and I decided to seek the help of a “professional”. I will not identify where we went, but it’s a very popular tax-filing business, so to speak. We sat down with the gentleman and immediately felt uncomfortable. We explained the changes that took place in 2012 and then dropped the bomb:
Us: “We had a baby.”
Tax Man: “Congratulations”
Us: “She died shortly after she was born.”
Begin even more awkward appointment. We asked the question – “Can we claim her as a dependent?” He turned to his trusty book clearly rattled by this unusual(?) set of circumstances. He quickly told us that he thought we could and nodded in delight of his findings. Hackie: “But we never got a social security number for her”. The tax man’s face changed, he slammed his book closed, and stated, “Well that stops us right there.” He advised us to move forward and try to get a SSN for her. We could then file an amendment on our return. I felt very uneasy about this whole thing and frustrated that we were told by more than one person that getting a SSN for Maya was unnecessary.
The appointment proceeded in all its uncomfortableness and we got to the end. We were told that we owe, AND that if we could claim Maya, we would not owe. Talk about a punch in the gut. We were missing some things so we left unfinished and very frustrated/upset. After a week of putting off the follow-up appointment, we decided to discontinue with awkward tax man and find a different means of filing our tax return. We also continued to ponder this SSN business. Something just didn’t seem right to me – get a SSN for a child who lived 9 hours just to be able to claim her on our tax return????
Hackie turned to his Aunt who is an accountant and with whom we are very close. He explained the situation and she offered to do some research for us. Within about 10 minutes she texted Hackie this, which she found on the IRS website:
Born and died in 2012. If your child was born and died in 2012, and you do not have an SSN for the child, you may attach a copy of the child’s birth certificate, death certificate, or hospital records instead. The document must show the child was born alive. If you do this, enter “DIED” in column (2) of line 6c of your Form 1040 or Form 1040A.
Take that Mr. Tax Man! My first thought after seeing this was an immense amount of relief. Hackie and I were very stuck and torn about whether or not to get a SSN. After relief, I felt somewhat stupid for not doing the research myself. In the end, this news really lifted my spirits. Sure, I am happy and relieved that being able to claim Maya will make it so we do not owe the government money. However, this whole experience and outcome stands for so much more…
Often times I look at my life now and am bothered by how, on the surface, it looks so similar to my old life – my life before Maya. On a daily basis, I wonder what I would be doing if she were here, how our weekends would be different, and how the daily mundane tasks like running a quick errand would not be the same. When I reflect on the new normal versus the old normal, I sometimes feel like my precious baby girl faded from our lives. We planned for her and counted on our lives changing for her, and then she was gone. The tax ordeal and the thought of not being able to claim our daughter again made me feel like she’s just faded away, remembered by only a handful of people. Getting the news that we could claim her without a SSN made Hackie and I both feel like she matters. She matters not only to us and our family and friends, but to the government.
In all the baby loss things I have read and communities I belong to, I have yet to find anything related to taxes. I’m hoping that someone benefits from reading about our experience. In 2012, we had a baby. Though that baby lived for 9 short hours, she was born alive and she lived. She mattered. She matters.