The Corner

Politics & Policy

Congressmen Call On the IRS to End Tax Deductions for Abortion

In a letter to Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, more than 100 U.S. congressmen have called on the Internal Revenue Service to cease providing tax deductions for abortion procedures by designating them as “medical care.”

“In all but the most extreme circumstances, abortion is an elective procedure that has nothing to do with, ‘the prevention or alleviation of a physical or mental defect or illness,’” the letter states, quoting the relevant IRS regulation’s definition of medical care.

“Any procedure for which a successful outcome depends on the death of a living human being, born or unborn, cannot be considered health care,” they write. “. . . Abortion is not health care, neither for the mother nor her unborn child.”

But since 1973, IRS regulations have included amounts paid for legal abortion among the qualified kinds of medical-care expenses that are eligible for tax deductions.

The congressmen write that this regulation “creates tax breaks for abortions through the medical expenses deduction as well as through health flexible spending accounts, health savings accounts, health reimbursement arrangements, and other tax-preferred health accounts and tax breaks that incorporate [the regulation’s] definition of ‘medical care.’”

They ask the IRS “to revise the regulatory definition of ‘medical care’ . . . to exclude amounts paid for any abortion,” except for those performed when a mother’s life is physically endangered.

“While we believe Congress should amend the statute to exclude categorically any health insurance that covers such abortions, enforcing the law’s separate accounting requirements is an important intermediary step,” the letter adds. It goes on to cite several statutes and judicial holdings to substantiate the argument that abortion does not qualify as medical care under the relevant regulations.

Senator Mike Braun (R., Ind.) and Representative Warren Davidson (R., Ohio) spearheaded the letter, which was signed by nearly two dozen Republican senators and almost 80 representatives. The full text of the letter can be found here.