Paul L. Caron

Thursday, October 28, 2010

NY Times: Medical Expense Deductions for Acne Cream, Not Breast Pumps

New York Times, Acne Cream? Tax-Sheltered. Breast Pump? No, by David Kocieniewski:

Denture wearers will get a tax break on the cost of adhesives to keep their false teeth in place. So will acne sufferers who buy pimple creams. People whose children have severe allergies might even be allowed the break for replacing grass with artificial turf since it could be considered a medical expense.

But nursing mothers will not be allowed to use their tax-sheltered health care accounts to pay for breast pumps and other supplies. That is because the IRS has ruled that breast-feeding does not have enough health benefits to quality as a form of medical care.

With all the changes the health care overhaul will bring in the coming years, it nonetheless will leave those regulations intact when new rules for flexible spending accounts go into effect in January. Those allow millions of Americans to set aside part of their pretax earnings to pay for unreimbursed medical expenses.

While breast-feeding supplies weren’t allowed under the old regulations either, one major goal of the health care overhaul was to control medical costs by encouraging preventive procedures like immunizations and screenings.

Despite a growing body of research indicating that the antibodies passed from mother to child in breast milk could reduce disease among infants — including one recent study that found it could prevent the premature death of 900 babies a year — the IRS has denied a request from the American Academy of Pediatrics to reclassify breast-feeding costs as a medical care expense.

(Hat Tip: Ann Murphy.) Prior TaxProf Blog coverage:

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The IRS hates any competition of milking the American public.

Posted by: Woody | Oct 28, 2010 9:05:11 AM