Legal Alert: IRS Clarifies Reimbursements for Breastfeeding Supplies

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Without detailed explanation, the Internal Revenue Service issued Announcement 2011-14, holding that breast pumps and other equipment and supplies that assist lactation constitute medical care under § 213(d) of the Internal Revenue Code. This means that the cost of such supplies can qualify as a medical expense deduction (subject to the other conditions of deductibility), and can be reimbursed under Flexible Spending Accounts, as well as under Health Reimbursement Arrangements, Health Savings Accounts, and Archer Medical Savings Accounts. In 2009, the IRS, in a general information letter, had expressed the opinion that breast pumps and related equipment may be beneficial to general health, but do not mitigate or treat a disease and so do not qualify as "medical care," and are not reimbursable under a flexible spending arrangement. (The letter responded to an inquiry regarding FSA reimbursements.)

The letter concluded that "[i]t is not within the power of the Internal Revenue Service to classify breastfeeding equipment as medical care in contravention of current law." There are two additional factors, however, that were not mentioned in the letter. First, breast pumps and similar items can be, and sometimes are, used to treat specific medical conditions (such as an abscess), which would constitute medical care, even under the standard referenced in the information letter.

Please see full alert below for more information.

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