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Whoa, Momma!

Sharon Kennedy Wynne, Tracey Henry and Suzannah DiMarzio

No tax break for breast pumps



breastpump.jpgThe health care bill added a lot of new medical items you can add to your tax-free medical savings account, but as this story by the New York Times notes, expensive breast pumps aren't one of them.

New regulations stemming from the health care overhaul take effect in January for flexible spending accounts, which allow millions of Americans to set aside part of their pretax earnings to pay for unreimbursed medical expenses.

On the list: A tax break for denture wearers who buy adhesives and a tax break for acne sufferers who buy creams. But nursing mothers who may have to invest in breast pumps will not get any help under the plan. That is because the Internal Revenue Service has ruled that breast-feeding does not have enough health benefits to qualify as a form of medical care.

The cost of buying or renting a breast pump and the various accessories needed to store milk runs about $500 to $1,000 for most mothers over the course of a year, according to the U.S. Breastfeeding Committee, a nonprofit advocacy group. Lactation consultants, who can cost another several hundred dollars, also would not be considered an eligible expense.

Roy Ramthun, a former Treasury Department official, said that tax officials’ reluctance to classify those costs as medical expenses stemmed from a fear that the program might be abused.

Unless the law changes, some mothers may ask their pediatricians for a note that breast-feeding is medically necessary in their case.

-- Times wires

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[Last modified: Thursday, October 28, 2010 2:16pm]


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