TaxProf Blog

Editor: Paul L. Caron, Dean
Pepperdine University School of Law

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Kindregan: Tax Consequences of Collaborative Reproduction

Charles P. Kindregan, Jr. (Suffolk) has published Taxing Parenthood: Federal Tax Law and Collaborative Reproduction, 24 Am. J. Fam. L. 134 (2010). Here is the abstract:

This article examines the novel issues dealing with the application of the federal tax code to collaborative reproduction, i.e. assisted reproductive technology involving third parties in the procreative process. Although collaborative reproduction has become a billion dollar business in the United States, the tax issues arising from it has for the most part been obscured from public view. Payment to a collaborator for gametes, embryos and birthing a child for another obviously raise tax issues, but often attempts are made to avoid reporting such payments, especially to surrogate carriers and egg donors. While deductions may be allowed for the costs of collaborative reproduction, the only analogous rulings may be those having to do with blood and human milk. There is a little literature on the subject, but except for a decision of the tax court on deduction of legal and medical payments and the cost of employing a surrogate carrier, there appears to be no practical controlling law. Given the economic reality of transfer of money in the field of reproductive medicine this article may help to focus attention on the subject.

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When I attended law school (a thousand years ago), I roomed with a friend from college who was going for his PhD in English. Chris explained to me the difficulty of choosing a dissertation topic - it was very difficult to write anything new about Shakespeare.

I remember he told me one of the choices was to find a formerly popular but now out of favor author and rehabilitate his reputation. Or, conversely to deride a current academic favorite. (Both had happened to Charles Dickens.) The trick was to find an author you could even fake enthusiasm for.

I have some sympathy for the academic who must publish. And it is better to tackle an obscure subject than merely write an "If-I-ruled-the-world" tax policy screed.

However, it is difficult to imagine that I will read this article or how such scholarship will enrich the author's teaching students. Clearly I do not understand the law school dynamic which rewards teachers for publishing articles with only tangential relevance to the subjects they teach and are rarely read by practitioners.

When I got a Tax LLM, I was taught by Jim Eustice and other giants who actively practiced as well as taught. I wonder what happends today? Or, perhaps I'm just an old fool who remembers a nonexistent Golden Age?

Posted by: Ed D | Oct 27, 2010 8:13:05 AM