by Amy: By now, you’ve probably heard that the IRS has reversed their ruling on breast pumps as a medical expense. Prior to February 2010, they weren’t approved; that meant they couldn’t be purchased with health spending accounts or deducted on tax filings. Given that things like penis pumps and astro turf qualified, this was a pretty raw deal for new moms!
Luckily, the IRS revisited the subject and decided breast pumps can be deducted on taxes or purchased with health spending accounts (they’re now known as “tax sheltered”). This is a major victory for moms!
Here’s the actual language of the ruling reversal:
“The Internal Revenue Service has 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.”
Basically, this means that the money spent on pumps and pumping supplies (like PumpEase!) is tax-deductible, or doesn’t count toward the total income on which you’ll pay taxes in a given year. The government isn’t buying any breast pumps and they’re not giving out tax credits (actual cash-money that you could collect); they’re just saying that you don’t have to pay taxes on the money you use to purchase these items and that they can now be bought with money in your pre-tax health spending account.
It would be great to see an itemized list of what qualifies, but since there isn’t one (or at least there isn’t, yet), we’ll have to do some trial and error. If you have a health spending account, you can submit a reimbursement claim for your pump, pump accessories, and PumpEase. Each company that administers health spending accounts is going to have their own interpretation and rules, so you may find it helpful to call and speak with them about your reimbursement claim. While you can’t show that your PumpEase definitely IS a qualified expense, they can’t show that it’s excluded, either. And hey: any mama who’s pumped can attest to the necessity of hands-free pumping!
The other option is to deduct the cost of your pump, pump supplies, and PumpEase on your taxes. However, since only 1/3 of Americans itemize their taxes (as opposed to taking the Standard Deduction), this won’t be practical for everyone. Many companies offer health spending plans in their benefits packages, though, so it’s worth a call to HR to find out if that’s an option for you.
You won’t need a prescription from your doctor or any other kind of verification to deduct the cost of your breast pump, pump supplies, and PumpEase from your taxes or purchase them with your health spending account.
The best thing to do here is TRY! Since things are currently very open-ended and undefined, it’s absolutely worth a try to either purchase your PumpEase with a health spending account or deduct it from your taxes, if you itemize. We’ll be watching for further developments and details on this subject, so stay tuned!
Have you submitted your pump, pump supplies, or PumpEase for reimbursement through a health spending account? We’d love to hear about your experience!
Written by Amy West