Breastfeeding Supplies Now Tax Deductible Medical Expenses
The Internal Revenue Service has finally reversed a long-held position and is allowing breast pumps and other breastfeeding supplies as tax deductible medical expenses. The new ruling also means that lactation supplies can be reimbursed through flexible spending accounts and health savings accounts.
The IRS said, in a statement, that the agency changed its position after concluding that breast pumps were equivalent to obstetric care and affected a woman’s body.
The American Academy of Pediatrics supports the new policy change. AAP President Dr. O. Marion Burton said in a statement “For years, the AAP has been urging the IRS to recognize that breast milk is not just the best and most natural food for infants; it confers well-documented health benefits on both baby and mother that cannot be obtained any other way.”
Last month, the Surgeon General issued a “Call to Action to Support Breastfeeding” in which more effort is encouraged to remove barriers to breastfeeding. The new ruling could help support a woman’s choice to continue breastfeeding, as it removes some financial obstacles. Although breastfeeding is significantly less expensive than bottle feeding, breast pumps can cost more than $200 and supplies can add up to $1,000 in the first year of a baby’s life.
Medical expenses can be used as deductions to the federal income tax when they exceed 7.5% of income. As breastfeeding expenses often occur in the same tax year as prenatal and childbirth expenses, the combination is likely to exceed this minimum.
The new ruling tax is effective immediately and can be used for 2010 tax filings, due this year to the Internal Revenue Service by April 18th.