What We’re Reading: New Tax Benefits for Nursing Mothers

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This tax season, new mothers may have something to celebrate. According to a recent article in The New York Times, the IRS now allows nursing mothers a tax break on breast-feeding and other nursing supplies. Starting with expenses incurred in 2010, mothers can “use pretax money from their flexible spending accounts to cover the cost of breast pumps and other supplies. Those without flexible spending accounts may deduct breast-feeding costs if their total unreimbursed medical expenses exceed 7.5 percent of their adjusted gross income and they itemize.”

Although the IRS has long resisted tax benefits for nursing mothers — they claimed breast-feeding as nutrition was a necessary rather than a medical expense — a recent lobby by Congress has prompted this year’s change.

Breast-feeding has been linked to many health benefits for infants, such as better immune health. But it may also help reduce the risk of Type 2 diabetes for mothers. Diabetes educator Amy Campbell writes in a recent article that breast-feeding can “help [the mother] burn additional calories to help recover her pre-pregnancy body, reduce the risk of certain cancers, and helps keep bones strong to protect against fractures at a later age.” Further, in a study published in The American Journal of Medicine, mothers who breast-fed for less than one month had a higher risk for Type 2 diabetes.

Even if you are not a nursing mother, you can find out more about tax policies that benefit you from the IRS Web site’s section on tax policies for individuals, as well as their 1040 Central site for tools and new policies being implemented this year.

This blog entry was written by Web Intern Helen Zhu.

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