Back in 2010, our government felt that breast pumps were not a medical "necessity" and therefore did not qualify for tax breaks or for any deductions from federal income taxes. Then in 2011, it became a part of the new tax code that breast pumps and accessories that "promote lactation" can be used as a tax break for some women. I am not a tax expert, and this is not official taxation advisement, but here are some things to consider when trying to use this tax benefit.
We should start by sharing that this law is not new for 2014. There are records of this being enacted in 2011. I've tried to ask my own accountant for two or three years if we can deduct the cost of the pump, the pump parts (including adapters for the car and batteries), the membranes, the storage bags, the coolers, and the cooler bags and many times his answer has been the same - he's never heard of this tax break. I brought him all the receipts, which added up to almost $400 one year and he never thought we qualified for the break because he'd never heard of it in the tax code and it wasn't in his software.
While it has been announced that it is in the tax code, there are two steps that could leave room for interpretation. First, it's announced here http://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-drop/a-11-14.pdf that this change would be included in a revision of IRS 502, which is where they outline medically reimbursible expenses but there is no date on the announcement and if you search and find IRS 502 there is still no date on the revision. Second, you will find breast pumps certainly qualify and it's clearly stated that they do. However, their revision states "supplies that support lactation" and this could be misunderstood by many parties. Many items support lactation - but will the IRS agree that they support lactation? Many pumping women would consider the items I had shown receipts to my accountant for above to be "supporting" lactation and I would assume they would all be eligible for the deduction. Some women may consider a nursing stool, soft music, multiple pumps (one for work and one for home), nurse purses, and/or even an expensive rocking chair for the new nursery to be "supporting lactation." Where does the IRS draw their line for items which support lactation?
For clarification, we at MomsPumpHere reached out to multiple accountants but still have not found a clear answer. One accountant agreed with mine - that this is new territory and they weren't sure what the tax code would allow. Another account said it might be best to not try to count so many items and be conservative with your deduction request.
We were not satisfied with these answers and decided to go further by contacting the IRS agency directly but we have been unsuccessful. The numbers listed in the announcement for these new tax deductions are either not in service, no longer being answered, or no messages can be left for requesting a returned phone call. We assume the IRS is still implementing the new codes and these changes will take awhile until they become more common to the average accountant and the average breast-pumping, tax-paying American.
The announcement states you will qualify for the tax benefit if your total medical expenses exceed 7.5% of your adjusted gross income, so not every breastpumping woman will qualify. Just four years ago, our legislators did not deem breastfeeding as medically necessary, but here we are discussing a tax break given to women and families who are breastfeeding. We are moving forward! We know that breastfeeding is best and that it's medically more beneficial for your baby - so if you're giving your baby breastmilk you are already enjoying a wonderful (and nontaxable) benefit.
We at MomsPumpHere will keep looking for answers on this topic. Ask your tax preparer (whether it's your accountant, your TurboTax software, your partner, or yourself) to look into this benefit for you - it's worth the investigation. Until the law is clearer, let's be patient as everyone works through it. We'll keep making milk for our babies and we'll let the tax situation keep moving forward.
Happy Pump Day, moms.