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Boob Tax: Will US Follow UK Lead by Taxing Cosmetic Surgery?

If you want breast implants, rhinoplasty, or breast implants in the United Kingdom, you’d better be ready to pay 20% more than the cost of the surgery. The “boob tax” may also be making its way stateside, much to the dismay of some plastic surgery specialists and advocates.

Until recently, the United Kingdom only charged a VAT (value added tax) on non-surgical aesthetic procedures. Botox, chemical peels, and other minor treatments performed at beauty salons were subject to the additional fees. Since the price of non-surgical procedures is usually considerably lower than cosmetic surgery, the tax was relatively low. Now, despite much of the public and some of the government’s disagreement with the non-surgical VAT, a new law has been introduced that will charge an astounding 20% tax on all cosmetic surgery procedures. The boob tax will hike up plastic surgery prices considerably—the average cost of a breast augmentation will increase by about $1,300—and cosmetic surgery advocates haven’t exactly been shy in voicing their opinions on the new boob tax.

Fazel Fatah, president of The British Association of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons (BAAPS), said: “The subjective proposals being put forward by HMRC will potentially harm large numbers of patients. They imply that, by definition, any procedure that corrects appearance rather than function is not a medical need.”

But in times of fiscal need, resorting to tax on seemingly unnecessary procedures is just too easy. Defenders of the boob tax say that the cosmetic VAT will give the government $780 million in annual revenue. The Obama administration may have similar thoughts, judging by the recent talk of adding a VAT of their own to plastic surgery procedures in the United States. The idea of an additional plastic surgery tax came up in 2009, but was ultimately shot down by lawmakers.

Dr. Michael McGuire, president of the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, called the potential law a sexist enforcement. “Elective surgery taxes discriminate against women, given that 86 percent of cosmetic surgery patients are female, of which 91 percent are between the working ages of 19-64.” Dr. McGuire also deflected the idea that the government would only be charging the wealthy by instating the tax: “Moreover, contrary to popular belief, cosmetic surgery is no longer an exclusive luxury afforded by the very wealthy, but rather a mainstream and reasonable option most common amongst the working middle-class.”

The President of the American Society of Aesthetic Plastic Surgery continued the argument, adding that “"This tax is effectively a 'Soccer Mom' tax that will adversely impact mainstream American wives and mothers, who are the majority of plastic surgery patients," said Renato Saltz, MD. “As doctors, we understand and appreciate the need for health care reform, but taxing physicians and cosmetic surgery procedures to pay for the reform is not realistic or beneficial.”

Breast Augmentation Resources is dedicated to helping you find the best breast surgery practitioner near you. If you’d like to learn more about a procedure or to schedule a private consultation with a plastic surgeon in your area, contact our representatives today.

--Marisa Amorasak

 

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