News & Features

Cosmetic Tax Trend Starting To Spread

Nickie Dobison Saucedo

The next time you go in for your regular Botox session, it may cost you a little extra. Now that New Jersey already has a cosmetic surgery tax, many states are trying to jump on the revenue bandwagon. The tax in New Jersey is set at 6% and taxes such procedures as breast implants and the ever-so-popular Botox. The bill defines these procedures as "those that do not meaningfully promote the proper function of the body or prevent or treat illness." Doctors everywhere are up in arms over this controversial issue because they say it gives the government the authority to decide what procedures are a necessity or purely cosmetic.
down the drain

Sometimes the line is blurred between what is medically necessary and just cosmetic. For instance, after a woman undergoes a mastectomy, she has the option of reconstructing a breast with her own tissue or using breast implants. Will there be a tax on breast implant reconstruction? This could add to an already huge medical bill that the cancer patient has.

Other opponents say the tax laws unfairly target middle-class women, who are the majority consumers of plastic surgery. Could taxes like these pave the way for taxes on more medical services, or just any type of service in general?

"What about educators, dentists, attorneys? This is something that would set a very dangerous precedent," states Tennessee based physician, Dr. Zanolli. California is to decide on this issue in the near future. Some feel that a tax would go against the rules already set up in the state's medical board. Dr. Sam Assassa of Beverly Hills feels that "adding a tax on [this] service is [not] professional at all. Also you have to apply the medical board rules for each state." He goes on to say that currently, "the only tax that can be added is for goods sold such as creams and supplies." But that could all be changed by this new legislation.

In New Jersey, revenues from the cosmetic surgery tax have raised $7.5 million dollars, which is below the initial estimate of $17.5 million dollars. One positive feature of this tax would be the money could theoretically benefit a worthy group or cause. The money raised from New Jersey's tax is used strictly on "medical care for the indigent" of the state, according to Dermatology World. Most legislators are proposing the money be put back into medically-related areas such as child health care and stem cell research. In Tennessee, supporters of the tax would like to use it for general state revenue. This is an appealing option for states that have budget deficits and other financial issues.

However, some opponents of the tax are asking, how much will the administrative costs be to collect this tax? How will it affect the economy? Women usually make less than men do; will their pocketbooks become even lighter than their male counterparts due to this tax? The debate rages on, but taxes on cosmetic procedures may be a reality across the nation in the near future.

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