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A Tax on Cosmetic Surgery — Love It or Leave It?

The Senate's proposed healthcare bill includes a novel approach to enhancing funding for reform: a five percent tax increase on cosmetic surgery. Procedures like tummy tucks, face lifts, hair plugs, collagen injections, Botox, or any other non-required procedure would get hit with the increase. The tax could raise as much as $6 billion.

If you think taxing superficial wealthy people to pay for the necessary health care of the poor sounds like a perfect idea, some people, namely cosmetic surgeons, say you got it all wrong. Statistics show that one-third of people who get plastic surgery make under $30,000 and 86 percent make less than $90,000. In addition, 85 percent of procedures are paid for by credit. So the tax would hit lower income people the hardest. Then again, maybe it makes sense to make cosmetic surgery even more out of reach in order to help fund basic healthcare needs. Still, more damaging to the cosmetic tax plan is the fact that a similar tax has so far failed in New Jersey, where it costs $3 trying to figure out what counts as "cosmetic" for every dollar raised from the tax.

Do you think the "botax" is worth a try?

Image Source: Getty
Join The Conversation
jkat jkat 7 years
Jazzy, I get you, and agree with you.
MissSushi MissSushi 7 years
I agree with jazzy too. Once you start, its a very slippery slope on what the government starts deciding is non-essential. There are very very very few things in life that ARE neccesary. Protective clothing and shoes, no matter what they look like, shelter no matter how poor it is, and food. Everything else can be chalked up to being useless and/or a waste compared to what others have.
jazzytummy jazzytummy 7 years
You are just not getting it. I have said that I am not talking about SALES TAX. I am talking about opening the door to give the government more power to tax other services based on what THEY perceive is a luxury. I personally am against it. I am older than most on here, have paid my share of taxes, seen my money wasted by the government, and I have to say, if you REALLY think that any monies being made here are going directly to health care, you are naive. Read the last sentence of the New Jersey, it costs $3 to figure out what counts as cosmetic for every dollar generated. HUH??? In other words, someone's $2 are being wasted every time into the great black hole. Whose $2? Yours and mine, that is, if you pay taxes. And for all of the people saying, do it on a case by case basis...RIGHT! Sounds great ideally, but really, how do you implement that, and who decides who gets taxed and who doesn't for the same procedure? I see a mountain of paperwork and legal issues in the future, and my guess is this extra hassle and time is at least partly why money is being wasted in New Jersey. I personally believe the goal should be to make basic health care plans more affordable for the average American, and that people should budget for them and not expect the government, i.e. me the taxpayer, to pick up the tab. For those that truly can't afford it, they should have access to basic health care supported by an efficient govt program (Snort), but it shouldn't be universal. There is plenty of waste in this govt, they can trim the fat and come up with a solution. I am in medicine, and the government already subsidizes alot of health care.....I know, because getting paid for my work has become increasingly difficult as the years pass. There need to be changes, but just taxing more is too simplistic. For all of the billions of dollars we have spent in Iraq over the past 8 years, I think they could find a better solution.
Chouette4u Chouette4u 7 years
If you go to Payless and spend $20 on a pair of shoes, and the sales tax in your area is 8%, you will pay $1.60 in tax. If you buy a pair of $200 designer shoes, you will pay $16. And if you buy some ridiculous $2000 pair of shoes, you pay $160. It's not as if there is some flat tax on shoes. If you're getting a "luxury" item, you're paying more. As for things like spa visits and haircuts, some places DO tax those services, and I would agree with that. I am anti big government and high taxes, but I favor sales taxes much more than I favor income taxes or estate taxes. I don't have anything against plastic surgery or think that everyone who gets it is a vain egoist, but do you disagree with taxes on makeup? I'm sure it helps a lot of people feel better about themselves. I also think it's fine that your friend got a nose job, but I also would be in favor of her having to pay an extra 8-10% tax since it wasn't a medically necessary procedure, no matter how much it boosted her self esteem.
staple-salad staple-salad 7 years
I'm all for taxing non-essential plastic surgery. Especially since, as far as I've heard at least, the money from that will go to fund health insurance for people who can't afford it... Which we direly need since the people who need insurance most are the ones that don't have it (a lot of my family is poor and diabetic, however, most of them don't have insurance, for example... presumably since they are poor and diabetic). And I think that if a procedure is purely for cosmetic reasons (ie, I wanna make my A's D's!" or "My nose is too big!" or "I hate being wrinkly!!!") then it deffinitely should be taxed. But if it has certain health benefits (like a woman with HH boobs getting a reduction because they are giving her back problems, or a person who was badly mangled in a car accident, or a baby born with a harelip), then it should be covered by insurance. Though, I'm betting that's what the plan ultimately is.
Autumns_Elegy Autumns_Elegy 7 years
I'm on the fence about it. I would tax on a case by case basis. If someone who had horrible scarring came in looking for surgery then I wouldn't tax. But if a 20 year old came in looking for botox I would tax.
jazzytummy jazzytummy 7 years
Chouette- no need to be snide. You completely missed my point... I am not referring to sales tax. I am making the point that if you support this, why not be consistent and have a luxury tax on other products that you don't need, and that not everyone can afford? Why buy those Jimmy Choos when you can go to Payless? You should pay an extra "luxury" tax because you don't need those when you can get something cheaper. My point is, who decides what is luxury or not? The government? I just think that it is a very bad precedent to have the government decide what is "luxury" or not, and tax based on that. Seriously, where does it end? Are your haircuts at your nice salon necessary? What about your manicures/pedicures? What about that new purebred puppy? These things are not necessary, so let's luxury tax those too, because not everyone can afford them. I seriously am in disbelief that so many people could support yet more taxes that will be wasted by the government God knows where. I also think it is incredibly judgmental for so many here to assume everyone who has plastic surgery is a vain, irresponsible egotist. I had a friend in college with a huge nose, complete with a big bump on top, and it really affected how she felt about herself. She was not rich, but she worked and saved money for a rhinoplasty, because it was important to her. The change in her self-confidence was incredible, and I am sorry, but the comment "instead, spend the money on therapy to raise your self esteem" is seriously clueless.
Chouette4u Chouette4u 7 years
"You can't tax somebody because they're insecure or have low self-esteem. This tax seems like it would be doing so, unfairly." What about those taxes on alcohol and cigarettes? You can't tax somebody because they are an alcoholic or are addicted to nicotine!!! "If you work hard and earn your money, you have every right to spend it how you please, no matter how much you make. Period. You should NOT be punished for it by being unfairly taxed" No one is taking away someone's right to get plastic surgery if they can pay for it. And everyone would be taxed an equal percentage of the cost of the procedure, so I don't see how anyone is being unfairly tax. "While you're at it, why not tax other "luxury" items, like heels that cost more than $200.00 a pair? " It's already taxed in almost all know, that little thing called sales tax.
jazzytummy jazzytummy 7 years
Emmygirl nailed it. If you work hard and earn your money, you have every right to spend it how you please, no matter how much you make. Period. You should NOT be punished for it by being unfairly taxed. This is basically the government's way of meddling into YOUR choices, not that they don't do that enough already. While you're at it, why not tax other "luxury" items, like heels that cost more than $200.00 a pair? So what if you worked hard, saved up for them and deserve them....someone else out there has NO shoes, so what are you doing spending over 200 bucks on yours? You should definitely be punished for wanting something so frivolous. Give me a break.... last time I checked, this WAS America, right?
Emmygirl Emmygirl 7 years
I don't know, this is America. If you want plastic surgery, and you save up for it, you should be able to get it. Why target those people with extra taxes? You can't tax somebody because they're insecure or have low self-esteem. This tax seems like it would be doing so, unfairly.
soapbox soapbox 7 years
Not all plastic surgery is unnecessary. My plastic surgeon keeps a scrap book of thank you letters from his customers in the waiting room. A lot of them were from people in car accidents, birth defects, people who lost weight but had excess skin, ect. Another doctor told me about a a man he met who was held down against his will as a gang tattooed the continent of Africa on his arm. The man had to go in for tattoo removal. So if you think that the plastic surgeon office is filled with rich, fake and baked tan, superficial people,you're wrong.
Kimpossible Kimpossible 7 years
I just wanted to add that I am a huge supporter of people doing what they want to with their money, it's their money afterall. So if these people want to spend their money on plastic surgery then so be it. It just doesn't make sense to me that this is what they'd spend it on when they don't make that much to begin with. And I still think the tax is a good idea since it is not a necessary item in people's lives.
Kimpossible Kimpossible 7 years
I'm with weffie on this one. Even though I usually don't like the idea of taxing everything to death, but this is a luxury item, it's not like food that people use every day. but again I totally agree with weffie. wth are people who make less than 30K a year spending their money on plastic surgery?
NurseKimberly NurseKimberly 7 years
Love it...
urban-chic-101 urban-chic-101 7 years
Why must we tax everything?! Maybe if our leaders didn't spend so much on useless shit and upgrades and buying votes with pork projects for their benefit we wouldn't need to tax everything!
tarabara1229 tarabara1229 7 years
If it's a non-required procedure, I'm all for it!
imLissy imLissy 7 years
it sounds like a good idea in theory, but I don't see it working out too well.
weffie weffie 7 years
I think it's a great idea. People who make less than $30,000 have no business complaining about tax if that's the kind of thing they waste their money on. They'd probably earn more if they were a wee bit smarter!
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