Posted February 10, 2011 by admin
In 2009, the IRS stated that they could not make breast pumps reimbursable unless Congress told them they could (see comments & letter below).
Today, the IRS has reversed their position and with Announcement 2011-14, they have effectively stated that “breast pumps and supplies that assist lactation are medical care under IRC §213(d)…amounts reimbursed for these expense under FSAs…are not income to the taxpayer.”
IRS Notice: http://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-drop/a-11-14.pdf
Prior to IRS Announcement 2011-14, the IRS’ analysis was that breast pumps used for general health were not medical expenses. IRS Information Letter 2009-0033 (Mar. 4, 2009)] For a copy: http://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-wd/09-0033.pdf .
That letter responded to a taxpayer’s letter requesting/recommending that the IRS allow breast pumps and related equipment to be reimbursed under a HCFSA (Health Care FSA). The information letter explained that HCFSA funds generally must be used for medical care, which the Code (IRC §213) defines as the diagnosis, cure, mitigation, treatment, or prevention of disease. Goods or services that are merely beneficial to general health and do not mitigate or treat a disease will not qualify as medical care.
Consequently, the cost of purchasing or renting a breast pump and related equipment did not fall within the definition of a medical care expense for HCFSA purposes. The letter also noted that it is not within the IRS’s power to classify breastfeeding equipment as medical care in contravention of the Code; such a change would have to be made by Congress. (Interesting that the IRS appears to have reversed that position too). Note: The IRS’ 2009 information letter, like earlier Treasury Tax Correspondence on this subject, did not mention that breast pumps are sometimes used to treat a medical condition (e.g., a breast abscess). At least one IRS official has informally indicated that breast pumps may qualify as medical care expenses if there are medical reasons for their use. Indeed, many HCFSAs treat breast pumps as dual-purpose items that can be reimbursed if the participant provides a note from a medical practitioner recommending the breast pump to treat a specific medical condition.
Nevertheless, with Announcement 2011-14, those expenses can now be reimbursed under a HCFSA, HRA, HSA or deductible from income taxes (if possible based upon your tax situation).