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Note to IRS: Don't mess with moms

Agency changes rule and declares that breast pumps are deductible and can be purchased with FSA funds.

By Kay Bell Feb 11, 2011 1:39PM

Anyone with a mom knows that they usually get their way. The IRS now has learned that lesson, too.


Last fall, the IRS issued rules on what is and isn't deductible as a medical expense.


That compilation also set the rules on what expenses can be reimbursed by medical flexible spending account, or FSA, money.


Breast pumps and other lactation devices were not on either list.


That oversight riled up moms nationwide, especially since the new health care reform law specifically requires workplaces to provide accommodations for breast-feeding employees.


Then last month, another government official, Surgeon General Regina M. Benjamin, issued a Call to Action to Support Breast-Feeding, which lists ways to lower barriers for mothers who want to breast-feed.


So it's no big surprise that the IRS to changed its mind. The agency made it official this week with the issuance of Announcement 2011-14, which says that expenses for breast pumps and supplies that assist lactation may be deducted as medical expenses or reimbursed under a flexible spending arrangement or similar plan.


And what prompted the change of heart and tax deduction policy? Specifically, the IRS concluded:

That breast pumps and supplies that assist lactation are medical care under §213(d) of the Internal Revenue Code because, like obstetric care, they are for the purpose of affecting a structure or function of the body of the lactating woman. Therefore, if the remaining requirements of §213(a) are met (for example, the taxpayer's total medical expenses exceed 7.5 percent of adjusted gross income), expenses paid for breast pumps and supplies that assist lactation are deductible medical expenses. Amounts reimbursed for these expenses under flexible spending arrangements, Archer medical savings accounts, health reimbursement arrangements, or health savings accounts are not income to the taxpayer.

The appropriate changes to reflect these now-allowable motherhood-related deductions will be made to IRS Publication 502, Medical and Dental Expenses.


And I hope the IRS also sent around an internal memo: Don't mess with moms.


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