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Assisted Reproduction

Is Egg Donation an Act of Commerce?


We wrote about an interesting tax case earlier this week which may see an egg donor having to pay tax on her donor compensation.

Nichelle Perez maintains that the $20,000 she received (in 2009) through donating eggs was exempt from tax and payment for pain and suffering. However, the IRS considers it to be income.

At the crux of the case, which will have far reaching consequences, is whether the act of donating eggs constitutes an act of commerce. There is it seems, a lot uncertainty as to how it should be regarded.

Ms Perez didn’t record the income on her tax return, however the IRS received information from the donor source which indicted that Ms Perez had been paid.

Legal academics have suggested that it is unlikely that Ms Perez’s argument that the income was akin to damages for a personal injury will find favor with the court given that she consented to the medical procedures.

If however the court were to rule that the donation was tantamount to sale of property Ms Perez wouldn’t be liable for self-employment tax at 15.3%

A ruling is expected after May 2014. The consequences of this ruling will be significant and not limited just to egg donor compensation, but sperm donation as well.


4 comments for “Is Egg Donation an Act of Commerce?”

  • Kathy

    Egg selling is a blatant act of commerce. Women who sell their eggs overwhelmingly do it for money out of financial need. The 1% are most assuredly not selling their eggs. The tax situation these women face is just another way that they’re getting screwed on top of the exploitation, commodification of women and their bodies, and serious short & long term health risks involved. This is pure class exploitation and patriarchal capitalism at work.

    • Lily

      No doubt spoken by a woman who has never experienced infertility. I can assure you that any woman who has been paid $10,000 for her eggs comes from a good, probably upper middle class, family, and is attending a good college with a high GPA, etc. Hardly the picture of class “exploitation”.

      But how dare people engage in “gasp” commerce?! We should all be subsistence farmers and only eat what we can grow! And if we run out of farmland or starve during times of famine, well tough, it’s still better than letting capitalist employers “exploit” us in exchange for “meager” wages that allow us to have a far higher standard of living than we could ever dream of attaining as self-employed farmers. Profit sharing or bust! Let’s ban commerce in all it’s forms; any kind of trade, bartering, farmers’ markets, Freecycle, it’s all pure evil!

  • marilynn

    Part of the problem is that she’s not actually selling or donating anything, what she is doing is offering her services and being compensated for the time it takes her to perform those services. The services are outlined in her agreement but those services don’t really involve transferring/donating/selling something that can be considered property because her body and its parts are always going to belong to her unlike any other item that can be transferred and then said to belong to another person. Nobody will ever be able to say truthfully that her eggs are their eggs. Nor will they ever be able to truthfully say that her children are their children; her eggs make her embryos make her fetus make her child. What she is doing is agreeing to reproduce with a preselected individual that may or may not take responsibility for his child when born. She is also agreeing to abandon her parental responsibilities for her offspring at birth and not challenge any false claims of maternity by anyone whether or not they gestated her offspring or intend to raise her offspring. She’s being compensated in advance for services she’ll provide later, namely not showing up and identifying herself as the mother of her own offspring. It’s not reimbursement either. They like to call it reimbursement, but she did not advance anyone money for anything that she’s being reimbursed for. If she’d paid money for a train ticket, turned in her receipt and they cut her a check in the amount of the $10 ticket or if it was a $50 per diem expenses reimbursement and she turned in receipts that would be reimbursement. Reimbursement for your time is called compensation and compensation is income. Reimbursement for your suffering is also income because you earned the money by having suffered for it. Its not taxable only when it relates to damages for illness and injury and that rule has only been since 1996.

    If you are taxed on income lend someone money and they pay you back, its not income and that is what reimbursement is. If she’d actually donated anything, her time or her eggs as if they were property she would not be given money she’d be given a receipt like they give you at good will and you write it off on your tax return. Problem is that the fertility clinic is generally not a non profit that treats sperm as a donation, its a commodity that they buy and shelve. With women the stakes are higher and not until recently when eggs became freezable has any clinic been willing to up front the cash at that level before having a client on board to pay for it. Private people are definitely not set up to be receiving charitable donations.

    It’s a contract for custody control and parental title over her offspring. It is child selling only its all set up in advance of the birth so that her identity is not recorded as mother – like any good black market adoption it where you have consent from the bio parent you need to reach consensus prior to birth in order to record the hopeful adopters as parents on the original birth record. The state department refers to it as maternity fraud or adoption fraud. I wish the Uniform Parentage Act would align itself to the State Department’s definition it would save a lot of U.S. Born minors from having their human rights violated.

    She’s being compensated and it’s taxable but its not for her eggs and its not for her time or pain or suffering because nobody would even bother trying to get her eggs if she did not first agree to give up her kid when it was born.

  • Pingback: Why $10,000+ Egg Donor Fees Will Likely Become The New Normal | The Spin Doctor()

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