'Tis the season for taxes, unfortunately. As the April 17 deadline to file your taxes approaches, many women are asking this question: Can you write off birth control on taxes? Here's what we know.
Unfortunately, writing off birth control on taxes has is a bit complicated — but not hopeless. According to TurboxTax, birth control pills are still deductible while filing taxes, since they are prescribed by doctors. In fact, the IRS Publication 502 clearly states "you can include in medical expenses the amount you pay for birth control pills prescribed by a doctor." What's not mentioned are other methods of contraception, such as IUDs or implants, which sucks because those pricy options are the ones that will really break the bank. Another catch is that you can only deduct medical expenses if they're over 7.5 percent of your adjusted gross income, per TurboTax, so that lone pack of pills is probably not going to qualify.
Still, having some ability to write off your contraception is definitely a good thing, because birth control could be getting quite a bit pricier in the future since the Trump administration is fighting to make some serious changes.
On Dec. 2, 2017 Congress passed a bill revamping the tax code, which also repealed the Affordable Care Act (ACA)'s individual mandate, a rule which requires all individuals to have health insurance or pay a fine. The repeal of the individual mandate could have a major effect on women's access to birth control, as experts believe the changes would likely destabilize the marketplace, raise costs, and force people who can't afford the price hike off their insurance plans. That's a problem for women, who would go from having their birth control covered at no extra cost to having to pay out of pocket if they lose insurance.
Amy Friedrich-Karnik, senior policy analyst for the Center for Reproductive Rights, told Elite Daily at the time that the ACA was key in ensuring contraceptive coverage at an affordable rate. She states that without insurance, contraception such as an IUD can cost as much as $500 to $900, and that's without the insertion fee of $150 to $250. An IUD is the most effective form of birth control, but if the cost is prohibitive for women to obtain the product, then they'll have to go with whatever the most affordable option is. Sadly, that's oftentimes not the best or the most secure way to make sure unwanted pregnancies don't occur. In fact, without contraceptive coverage, some women might not be able to afford birth control at all.
It's important to note that birth control isn't just to protect women from unwanted pregnancies, but it also helps with problems such as acne and painful menstrual cycles. Also, there's the little fact that birth control allows women to actually have control over their own bodies.
"The bigger picture is that birth control has given women, over decades, as it’s become more accessible and affordable, the autonomy to make the decisions they want to make for their lives," Friedrich-Karnik tells Elite Daily. "To go backwards to a time when they can’t afford contraceptives is really just a huge step in the wrong direction."
Women's health organization Planned Parenthood has dealt with a huge battle with Congress, when the Senate tried to defund Planned Parenthood by repealing the ACA in late July 2017. If Planned Parenthood was defunded, birth control and STI screenings would be cut off, which would lead to thousands of births. According to The Washington Post, unplanned pregnancies cost taxpayers about $21 million per year, and that doesn't even include medical check ups and treatments in the event of an issue during pregnancy. On July 13, 2017 Planned Parenthood President Cecile Richards spoke about the danger of defunding the organization in a statement.
This is, hands down, the worst bill for women in a generation, especially for low-income women and women of color. Slashing Medicaid, cutting maternity coverage, and blocking millions from getting preventive care at Planned Parenthood would result in more undetected cancers and more unintended pregnancies. And it puts moms and their babies at risk.
Who knows what the future holds during Trump's presidency. At least we can write off birth control pills in the meantime.