Newsweek: IRS to Mastectomy Moms: No Tax Relief for Baby Formula

In a Newsweek Exclusive, the IRS has confirmed that mothers who have suffered a double mastectomy can not deduct the expense of infant formula.

We certainly sympathize with the Harris family–Best for Babes Co-Founder Danielle Rigg is a breast cancer survivor who also endured a double mastectomy.  And we understand the frustration with perceived double standards when “condoms, hypnosis, yoga and even dancing lessons” are considered medical costs with a doctor’s note that can then be “deducted as pre-tax income for medical expenses not covered by insurance.”  Breast cancer survivors should not be penalized when they can not breastfeed.

from website

We wonder, however, if Newsweek, Mr. Harris and his wife would consider using their considerable connections and resources to advocate for donor milk and human milk banks.   The World Health Organizations states that pasteurized, screened donor milk is a superior choice to infant formula.    Best for Babes believes milk banks should be as ubiquitous as blood banks.   Formula is an adequate substitute for human milk, but it is certainly not “medicine”, in fact, formula is associated with considerable health risks.   Formula-fed babies have 3 times as many hospital visits, so actually using formula instead of donor milk means greater health care costs for all of us. 

Since “Dr. Scholl’s footpads, sunscreen, birth control, and prescription sunglasses all qualify as medical care for the ‘diagnosis, cure, mitigation, treatment or prevention of disease,’ according to the IRS”, it would be worth finding out if donor milk can be deducted as a medical expenses, since human milk mitigates, treats and prevents disease. 

In addition to Newsweek, allies of the Harris family include former California governor Gray Davis, a family friend, Rep. Henry Waxman, who wrote a letter to the IRS supporting the Harrisons. “Breast-cancer survivor organization Susan G. Komen for the Cure, also urged the IRS to reconsider, and the law firm Kirkland & Ellis took the case pro bono, putting one of its top tax attorneys, Todd Maynes, on the job.”   

Boy wouldn’t those “heavy-hitters” be helpful in getting more human milk banks established and ensuring that all mothers who can’t breastfeed due to a double mastectomy have access to the very best substitute for their own milk, screened, pasteurized, donor milk.  Because then we would be truly saving more lives in one fell swoop. 

Let’s PUMP for the cure right under our nose, literally!

One thought on “Newsweek: IRS to Mastectomy Moms: No Tax Relief for Baby Formula

  1. Bettina – Thank you for championing the cause. Like your co-founder Danielle, I am a breast cancer survivor (8yrs) who had my first child this summer. I wanted to provide breast milk to my son and worked with a breast milk donor (a very generous and over-producing friend). We discussed with RUSH (Chicago, IL) what tests needed to be done to ensure the safety of the milk, then worked with my OB office to order the blood tests. For a girl with no boobies who faced lots of “boobie traps” along the way, I am proud to say my son received breast milk for 2 months. I would be really interested in learning more on government funding of breast milk to cancer survivors.


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