Senate surprise: tax cosmetic surgery

November 19, 2009

The Senate’s healthcare reform legislation published by Democratic leaders last night included a big surprise for anyone saving up to enhance or undo what God gave them — a new 5 percent tax on elective cosmetic procedures. OBAMA/

The tax would take effect beginning in January and is being proposed as part of the sweeping healthcare overhaul to partly pay the cost of helping millions of uninsured people obtain medical coverage.

It would raise nearly $6 billion over 10 years, and who knows, perhaps even a few lawmakers might be enhancing the Federal Treasury if the tax ends up in a final bill signed by President Barack Obama.

The tax proposal came as a bit of a surprise to investors, and shares of Allergan, which markets popular wrinkle fighting Botox and Natrelle breast implants, fell in early trading along with the share prices of other makers of products for cosmetic procedures.

BRITAIN/It is possible that the proposed new tax will be cut from the bill during the upcoming Senate debate.

And if it survives the Senate, there is still the question of whether House Democrats, led by Speaker Nancy Pelosi, will nip and tuck the proposal right out of the bill.

Do you think elective cosmetic surgery should be taxed?

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Photo credits: Reuters/Jim Young (Senator Reid looks at Senator Max Baucus as he speaks about meeting with president in August), Reuters/Luke MacGregor (woman holds breast implant at plastic surgeons conference)


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First of all, this tax is unconstitutional.Secondly, it’s really a “double tax” – because you can’t deduct these expenses from your income taxes, plus you pay the 5%.Thirdly, it a tax on women, so it’s sexist and discriminatory.Fourth, it’s a tax on the middle class. Another Obama promise broken.What’s next…? Taxes on tubal ligations, vasectomies, elective abortions, sports injuries and weight loss surgery? Where does it end?

Posted by Tom F | Report as abusive

Your argument is quite flawed.1. I only wish taxes are unconstitutional, I would buy more alcohol.2. Lifting tax deductions is not a tax.3. Your assumption of taxing women is, by itself, discriminatory4. I would hardly say that middle class people are the ones rushing out to get elective surgeries.

Posted by Ron | Report as abusive

Why should cosmetic surgery be taxed any more than any other discretionary spending? It’s a bad idea and I agree with every point Tom F made.

Posted by Peter | Report as abusive

Ron, your arguments are flawed.1. Is not an argument.2. Lifting a tax deduction increases the total tax and is therefore a tax.3. It is not an assumption. It is supported by statistics.4. What you would say and what is reality are not necessarily the same. Again check the statistics and you will see he is right.

Posted by Peter | Report as abusive

Not to undermine the critiques against this legislation, but it is not solely targeted against women. This bill, if i read it correctly, will also impact another minority. People who have what is still a very controversial diagnosis referred to as transgenderism, or having a gender identity that does not match their physical characteristics. If this does not get defeated, this VERY severely impacts people like this since the surgeries to correct the physical characterisitisc are routinely classified as purely cosmetic by almost every branch of the medical profession. This is a very severe blow to anyone who is unfortunate enough to belong to this group, and I for one believe that THIS is the strongest argument for the unconstitutionality of the tax. Women may be getting these surgeries to feel better about themselves, but transgendered people get these surgeries to avoid clinical depression and suicide.

Posted by Sakura | Report as abusive

These taxes are getting ridiculous. This administration and congress are going to tax us to death (well I guess there is a funeral tax too). No one should be taxed for any medical procedure.

Posted by Steve | Report as abusive

It’s WAAAAAY overdue. Shoes, clothes,make-up, big screen TVs are all taxed. Food is not taxed. Cosmetic surgery is not a necessity. Sheesh

Posted by Burr | Report as abusive

the unions have swayed the attack against taxing their Cadillac health care insurance,i am sure Pelosi will pull the appropriate strings or what ever to stop the tax on Botox.

Posted by brian lee | Report as abusive

The average person would go to jail if in the course of doing business they concocted a new way of paying for their bad business decisions. It is amazing that are governor has added a 10% state income tax on the hard working people. Basically an interest free loan. I did not vote for that. Did You? Now our president want’s to tax cosmetic procedures. Something that women save for forever with the money they have already paid a hefty tax on. Usually so they can look better for men. Women already earn less then men. Better to tax controversial procedures that are frowned upon with the general voting public (even though every single congressman has a wife that has undergone plastic surgery. What a joke. Will congress use the new medical insurance they are trying so hard to push threw? How about the president and his family? Better yet, when will these cowardly politicians address the real problem……..ALL the ILLEGAL immigrants. You know the ones. The ones who don’t pay taxes, but work for you. The ones who hop the border and have their kids here, they become citizens and get on welfare. Do I need to go on?

Posted by Marla Fidler | Report as abusive

This IS a tax on women and the middle class: Statistics gathered by the main plastic surgeon society in America a few years ago show that most people getting cosmetic surgery are in the middle class and 85% of them are women. Specifically, 60% reported an annual income of $30,000 to $90,000, and 40% reported an income of $30,000 to $60,000. This is highly discrimatory and definitely contrary to the Obama administration’s pledge not to tax the middle class.

Posted by Allen | Report as abusive

This is the best idea yet. I am a 55 yr. woman and wholeheartedly support this tax.

Posted by Anita | Report as abusive

There are harmful side effects to Botox, read more about it: s/2009/08/07/the-fda-makes-changes-and-p rovisions-to-botoxbotox-cosmetics-dyspor t-and-myobloc/

Posted by iveth | Report as abusive

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