The IRS reverses stance, now says breastfeeding costs can be medical expenses.
Good news for nursing mothers (and their wallets)! The cost of breast pumps will now be considered tax-deductible medical expenses under a reclassification issued by the Internal Revenue Service, according to a report on MSNBC.
The New York Times reports that the decision "will affect expenses incurred starting in 2010"—just in time for you to file your taxes this year.
The new decision means women can use money set aside in pre-tax flexible spending accounts (FSAs) to buy the pumps and related equipment, MSNBC reports. For women without FSAs, breast pumps and supplies will be tax deductible if their total medical costs exceed 7.5 percent of adjusted gross income, MSNBC reports.
Breastfeeding advocates have long pushed for this reclassification. Previously, the IRS considered breast pumps to be feeding equipment, not medical devices. As for the IRS's "breast milk is food" stance, advocates would argue: How many foods are produced by the human body and require an FDA-regulated medical device to be safely extracted?
Breast pumps typically cost more than $200 and—along with supplies like storage bags and bottles and sanitizing supplies—can run as high as $1,000 in the first year of a baby's life. More information is expected to be announced in the IRS's revised publication 502 (Medical and Dental Expenses), available on the IRS website, according to several news outlets. No availability date was immediately known.
In April 2010, the journal Pediatrics reported on a medical miracle that could save nearly 1,000 U.S. babies' lives and cut infant health care spending by $13 billion annually. Scientists have also repeatedly found it to have dramatic benefits for mothers, including a faster return to prepregnancy weight, reductions in breast and ovarian cancer plus a lower risk of cardiovascular disease and diabetes. Better yet, it's safe for mothers and babies alike, and environmentally friendly, too.
Check out (and bookmark!) our Ultimate Guide to Breastfeeding for everything you need to know about nursing your little one—from buying that first nursing bra to deciding when to wean.
Maria Vega is Fit Pregnancy magazine's copy editor.