Reversing a long-held position, the IRS announced yesterday that breast pumps and other lactation supplies are now deductible. Employees can now use pre-tax funds from their flexible spending accounts and health savings accounts for these supplies. The ruling is effective immediately and can be used on 2010 returns.
In conjunction with the FLSA amendment, which was went into effect in March of 2010, this ruling signals that policymakers are finally coming to appreciate the health benefits of breastmilk for newborns, that medical professionals have long touted.
Breast pumps and related supplies can run as high as $1,000 in the baby’s first year. The fact that employers are now required to accommodate lactation breaks of reasonable length, combined with the change in IRS policy is likely to have a measurable effect on the number of mothers returning to work who opt for the benefits of breastmilk.