(July 1, 2009) (released Oct. 9, 2009):
On Date 2, Taxpayer had a physician advised double mastectomy to address medical conditions X and Y. On Date 3, Taxpayer gave birth to a healthy child. Due to her double mastectomy, Taxpayer was unable to breastfeed her child and had to purchase infant formula to meet the baby's nutritional needs. ...
Rev. Rul. 55-261, 1955-1 C.B. 307, holds that the cost of special foods and beverages qualifies as a deductible medical expense if the foods or beverages (a) are prescribed by a physician for alleviation or treatment of a specific illness, (b) are in addition to the taxpayer's normal diet, and (c) in no way are a part of the nutritional needs of the patient, and if a statement as to the particular facts and to the food or beverage prescribed is submitted by a physician. However, when that special food or beverage is taken as a substitute for food or beverage normally consumed by a person to satisfy normal nutritional requirements, the expense is personal and is not deductible as a medical expense
Rev. Rul. 2002-19, 2002-16 I.R.B. 778, holds that individuals participating in a weight loss program may not deduct the cost of purchasing reduced-calorie diet food because the foods are substitutes for the food the individual would normally consume to satisfy nutritional requirements. Rev. Rul. 2002-19 cites to and restates the holding of Rev. Rul. 55-261.
In Massa v. Commissioner, T.C. Memo 1999-63, aff'd without published opinion 208 F.3d 226 (10th Cir. 2000), the Tax Court found that the petitioner, who suffered from Crohn's disease, failed to establish that his special diet was other than a substitute for a normal diet. The court was not convinced that his diet, although followed for medical reasons, differed from the diet of an ordinarily health conscious individual. The court rejected taxpayers' claims for deductions for special foods which were found to be merely substitutes for foods normally consumed by an individual. The court held that the petitioner was not entitled to a medical expense deduction for his diet.
In the instant case, Taxpayers' child is a healthy baby. The formula satisfies the baby's normal nutritional needs. Therefore, the infant formula is properly viewed as food that the infant would normally consume and use to satisfy its nutritional requirements. Unless the formula meets the criteria under Rev. Rul. 55-261, the expense of the formula is a nondeductible personal expense under § 262.
Therefore, the infant formula is properly considered food for the infant, and is not a medical expense as that term is defined under § 213. Accordingly, Taxpayer's request to treat expenditures for infant formula for a healthy infant as a medical expense under § 213 is denied.