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Nursing Mothers Finally Get a (Tax) Break

Good news, moms. Finally that little bundle of joy will help you save, not spend. The IRS said today that breast pumps and other nursing supplies now qualify as tax-deductible medical expenses. The equipment can even be reimbursed under flexible-spending accounts or health-savings accounts.

Associated Press

The move reverses last year’s ruling that excluded breast pumps and other similar breastfeeding aids from favorable tax treatment.

Here’s what WSJ’s Juggle blog has to say:

“Until now … nursing mothers couldn’t use flexible-spending accounts to pay for breast pumps and other nursing supplies because the IRS said that breastfeeding didn’t have enough health benefits to qualify as medical or preventative care.

Now, though, the IRS says that like obstetric care, nursing supplies are ‘for the purpose of affecting a structure or function of the body of the lactating woman.’ … The new ruling means that families can use pretax funds from their flexible spending accounts and health savings accounts for pumps and other supplies.  Medical expenses, meanwhile, are not deductible until they exceed 7.5% of adjusted gross income. Breast pumps typically cost more than $200 and, along with supplies, can run as high as $1,000 in the first year of a baby’s life, Reuters reports.”

The agency hasn’t specified what supplies beyond pumps will be deductible. So stay on the lookout for the forthcoming guidance in the IRS’s revised publication 502, Medical and Dental Expenses. The publication also includes a laundry list of expenses that don’t qualify for deductions or reimbursements such as cosmetic surgery (no surprise), funeral expenses, and dancing lessons. Yet other items that don’t make the cut—like medical marijuana—have inspired taxpayers to lobby the IRS to consider them more seriously.

Readers, in light of the IRS’s recent rule reversal, what other items should the agency reconsider to qualify for deductions or health-savings account expenses?


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  • The Tax Blog brings together a team of award-winning tax journalists from the Dow Jones network and around the web to examine the tax issues, changes and legislation that affect families, investors and small business owners. Our contributors include Tax Report columnist Laura Saunders (WSJ), Tax Guy columnist Bill Bischoff and senior reporter Jilian Mincer (, retirement-focused reporter Anne Tergesen (WSJ), wealth management writer Arden Dale (Dow Jones Newswires), TaxWatch columnist Eva Rosenberg and personal finance reporter Andrea Coombes (MarketWatch), and reporter Alyssa Abkowitz (SmartMoney). They’ll provide the latest news and insight, mine the tax code for tips and loopholes, and answer your questions about tricky tax situations. Contact the The Tax Blog with ideas, suggestions or tax questions at