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IRS Reverses Stance On Breast Pumps, Allows For Tax Break

Breast pumps are expensive.  But in my case, they’re a necessity.  And with already mixed emotions about breastfeeding, I need to get a pump with all the bells and whistles to keep my breastfeeding-related anxiety at a minimum. But pumps routinely run several hundred dollars. Amidst all the other baby-related gear necessary for a newborn that can be an impossible expenditure.

That’s why it’s such good news that The Internal Revenue Service has changed course and has decided to reclassify breast pumps as medical devices, allowing for them and other breastfeeding supplies to be deductible on your tax returns.

It’s about time.

As fellow Being Pregnant writer, Ceridwen Morris, wrote in IRS Not In Support of Breastfeeding Mothers, as recently as last October the I.R.S. denied a request from the American Academy of Pediatrics to reclassify breast-feeding costs as a medical care expense.

Even though studies have shown that if millions of mothers followed the standard medical advice of feeding infants only breast milk for their first six months, the United States could save billions a year in health care costs and prevent premature infant deaths, the I.R.S. still considered nutrition a necessity rather than a medical condition. Meaning breast milk was viewed as a nutritional perk like fresh food not in the realm of health care, and breast pumps, bottles and pads no more deserving of a tax break than a vegetable steamer.

As the The New York Times reports the IRS is “ending a long-running dispute with pediatricians and breast-feeding advocates, the Internal Revenue Service announced Thursday that it would grant nursing mothers a tax break on pumps and other breastfeeding supplies.”

The ruling will affect expenses incurred starting in 2010. Mothers can use pretax money from their flexible spending accounts to cover the cost of breast pumps and other supplies. Those without flexible spending accounts may deduct breast-feeding costs if their total un-reimbursed medical expenses exceed 7.5 percent of their adjusted gross income and they itemize.

Sweet.  I am already frantically rifling through my files in search of the receipt for this bad boy. The pump, not the husband.

Whatever is behind the policy change, breast-feeding supporters say the IRS’s reversal will make it easier for millions of women to breastfeed longer, especially after going back to work, when pumping becomes a necessity.

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