Tax Write-Offs for Some Mothers – But Not All

Image via Flickr/ treehouse1977

After being pressured for quite some time about tax breaks for breastfeeding stuff, the IRS finally answered and decided to make tax breaks available for moms that breastfeed. Pretty cool, right? As was mentioned in the article, vasectomies and weight-loss programs were under the umbrella of “allowable medical expenses,” so why wouldn't something even more common than those two things be disregarded as an “allowable medical expense?”

But, as I said, the IRS has decided that they'll give you tax breaks if you breastfeed — and if you dish out more than 10% of your adjusted gross income, which is your gross income minus any adjustments.

So, this is great, right? For those moms that breastfeed their babies, the costs behind all of the breast pumps and the bottles and the nursing bras and the nursing pads add up, and they add up quite quickly.

{ MORE: Pumping Milk? Tips for New Moms }

Breastfeeding babies is expensive!

Because when you're comparing the costs of supplies alone of what a breastfeeding mother would have to pay and what a formula-feeding mother would have to pay, breastfeeding mothers have to pay a TON more than formula-feeding mothers. Right?

From BabyGooroo, we have some interesting information that shows how much more breastfeeding moms have to spend on average, showing clearly that they need these tax breaks: 

  • Breastfeeding moms have to spend an average of $300 to $435 a year on things like nursing bras, pumps, nursing pads, and the like (things I already mentioned).
  • Formula-feeding moms spend an average of $1,646 to $3,007 a year on things like formula and bottles.

So, as you can see — wait. While it is true that breastfeeding moms spend a lot of money on supplies, moms that formula feed, regardless of the reason, have tons more expenses. 

{ MORE: What You Absolutely Have to Know about Formula Feeding }

Instead of only having those tax breaks go to the breastfeeding moms, I think that, if they're going to go about this and help out breastfeeding moms, then I think that all of the breastfeeders should get some help feeding their babies. I understand that this could be seen as a way to encourage more moms to breastfeed — I get that. But some moms just can't breastfeed their baby even if they really wanted to. So let's not single out one type of feeder from the other. Let's help everyone that is trying to raise their baby in the healthiest way that they can?


What do you guys think about this? Cool? Fair? Unfair? Let me know! I'm sure you've got something to say! 

What do you think?

Tax Write-Offs for Some Mothers – But Not All

Jace Whatcott is a self-diagnosed introvert who loves crossword puzzles, golf, and reading. Despite being a male contributor—one of the few on this particular website—he is not in unfamiliar territory. Because he is an English major, 90% of his classmates are females, so he’s not too worried about being a fish out of water. One of his favorite things to do is to raid local thrift stores for used books. He’s always looking for something to read, or for something to put on his endless to-r ... More

Tell us what you think!


  1. Celina says:

    I 100% agree! My son was born with a cleft palate thus was unable to be breastfeed. I tried pumping for approximately 5 months. It was extremely hard specially after going back to work, fulltime, so my milk supply dropped. Then, I had to switch to formula and I was so expensive!! I wish they would also consider situations like mine. I am sure I am not the only one.

  2. Nikki says:

    I think this would primarily help really low-income women because it would take either a lot of breastfeeding supplies to make that 10% or a really low income. Most women who have that low of an income qualify for receiving free formula so breastfeeding actually is more expensive. It’s nice that this tax break can encourage those women to breastfeed their babies.

  3. Lorraine says:

    Hi! Yes, maybe there should be different levels of breaks based upon the type of feeding and reasons some may not be able to breastfeed. For example, women diagnosed with Cancer during pregnancy who were going to breastfeed in most cases will not be able to breastfeed, as well as those who had certain types of Cancers prior to pregnancy. Also, there are other health issues as well as problems with either the breast or infected ducts, etc..

    Being that the expenses vary and the reasons for one choice over the other vary, the tax breaks should match accordingly and of course if proof is needed such as doctors’ notes and/or general medical reports, then the individual should be willing to submit the supporting documentation.

  4. Debbie says:

    Everyday Family, please check your facts with a CPA before writing an irresponsible article like this. You are suggesting that the government favors formula-feeding women over breastfeeding women, which is 100% not the case. If you itemize your medical expenses on your taxes, you add up all allowable medical expenses for the year, and the IRS has a comprehensive list of what counts as a medical expense and what doesn’t. All the IRS is saying here is that costs involved with feeding your baby (pumps, formula, bottles, etc.) are all allowable expenses. This is great for all families with babies because any expense you incurred over the past year relating to feeding your baby can be included in your medical expenses. You are suggesting that breastfeeding moms be able to somehow count nonexistent expenses towards medical expenses for the year. Just because it is time-consuming and often difficult to breastfeed does not mean that breastfeeding moms should somehow be able to count “pain and suffering expenses” towards their medical costs. As someone else said, if you have a receipt for a medical expense, it counts.

  5. Rena says:

    Hmm. I have expenses for both. I breastfeed but have to supplement. So I’ve bought breast pumps, nursing bras, lactation aids, plus formula, bottles, etc.

  6. Angela says:

    I’ll admit it is expensive to buy all the breastfeeding stuff but it’s also expensive to formula feed too and it would be great if they could maybe give all parents that are raising babies a tax break that would make it fair for all of us who have babies to raise not just a medical thing but kinda like a higher living acts thing bcuz it’s not cheap to even have to buy all the diapers and wipes and baby soaps and baby medicine baby food and stuff

    • Stephanie says:

      They do give all parents tax breaks. It’s called the child tax credit and the child dependent care credit (which to me isn’t fair that stay at home parents can’t get because they are losing out on income to take care of their child so it’s similar to working and paying someone else to take care of their child, but anyway). Every parent also gets an additional exemption for each child. Yes, babies are expensive…diapers, wipes, food, etc, it all adds up. But, at the end of the day, if you can’t afford to have a baby and pay for all of those things, then you probably shouldn’t have a baby.

  7. callie says:

    This isn’t a tax deduction FOR breastfeeding moms. All that has happened is the IRS has added breastpumps to the list of accepted items to be itemized for a MEDICAL deduction. The medical deduction has always been there and is available to everyone, breastfeeder, formula feeder, women or men. They’re not asking for you to provide a sample of breastmilk and then handing over a check. Anyone (man, woman, lactating or not) can itemize the cost of a pump and bags if they have the receipts. Just as anyone can claim the cost of glasses, dentures or a vasectomy if they have a receipt for it. I breastfed and still didn’t qualify for this. We didn’t spend enough.

  8. Toni says:

    It would be great if everyone had the choice to breastfeed or not but nature sometimes has a different plan. I struggled with breastfeeding and originally had the plan to breastfeed for the first year. Unfortunately even after supplements and eating a strict diet I just could not produce. My son is 10 months old and it still upsets me I could not breastfeed for him and now to see this makes me feel even more of a failure. I’m proud and happy for those that could breastfeed and would qualify but it’s not right for those who just couldn’t.

    • callie says:

      If you have receipts for your pump and lactation supplies you can use this. You just add the cost to the itemized medical and if the total is 10%+ of your adjusted gross income then you can take the medical deduction.

  9. Jennie says:

    I think it’s great they wanna help out mothers but not fair to the ones that tried to breast feed and couldn’t!! I was unsuccessful with both of my children after pumping and everything else recommended if they’re going to help one mom they need to help all

  10. Stephanie says:

    I never once thought breast feeding was more costly than formula… Have you ever priced out a can of formula?! No matter how much we spend on our breast feeding bras or pump our even breast pads and milk bags it doesn’t even touch the cost of having to buy formula every week, and WIC only helps a little. I’m grateful for the opportunity to breastfeed my daughter and I know it saves us a lot of money, especially since WIC loaned me a pump and provided storage bags

  11. noelani says:

    I am a mother of 3. I believe it is unfair to single out one type of feeding. I was a able to breastfeed my first 2, but my last pregnancy I had complications, and my daughter was premature. I almost died giving birth and for health reasons could only breastfeed the first month. I think those tax breaks are unfair.

    • Stephanie says:

      They are not singling out one type of feeding. There is no requirement that you be breastfeeding to take the tax deduction. If you purchased a pump and supplies to breastfeed they still count as qualified expenses even if you are unable to continue breastfeeding. The tax “break” is not all that great anyway as there are very few people who have enough medical expenses to hit the 10% of AGI threshold, and even then you can only deduct the portion that is greater than 10%, not the full amount.

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