A tax on cosmetic surgery??Posted on July 28, 2009
Rumors are flying about the possibility of a new 10% tax on cosmetic surgery. Apparently, this is one of the more creative methods that the Senate Finance Committee has proposed, to help pay for the President’s new healthcare system.
I, for one, certainly hope that this doesn’t come to pass. While this tax might look like “easy revenue”, it is essentially an unfair tax.
Why? – because it unfairly discriminates against women, who are 95% of the consumers of cosmetic surgery. And that’s not right.
Usually excise taxes are designed to tax products or services that have a negative effect on the public health. Taxes on tobacco products and alcohol – which have well been proven to have detrimental effects on the public health – would be classic examples of excise taxes. Cosmetic surgery just makes people feel better about themselves. It doesn’t have a negative health effect.
Could we argue that it would just be another form of “luxury tax” on the ultra-rich? No, not really – the vast majority of my patients are average Americans, who are middle-income earners; the waitress whose has been saving for a breast augmentation, the mom with three kids who wants to fix her tummy now that her kids are grown. They are certainly not the ultra-rich.
Experience with a similar cosmetic surgery tax in New Jersey did not pan out well. Tax revenues were reportedly only 25% of what was estimated.
An ideal tax (admittedly an oxymoronic phrase!) should be broad-based and non-discriminatory. A cosmetic surgery tax would be neither.