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The Cosmetic Tax: A Failed Economic Discrimination Policy


Posted by Jacob Feldman on Tuesday, July 28th, 2009, 3:31 PM PERMALINK


The Senate Finance Committee has released another tax proposal for raising revenues for health care reform – most recently, a 10 percent excise tax on cosmetic surgery deemed unnecessary for medical purposes. The cosmetic tax hasn’t been officially scored, but its results are sure to be negative.

Taxing cosmetic procedures is not a first for government. According to an article in the National Journal:
 
“A number of states have tried to impose excise taxes on cosmetic surgery, with little success. The only state with such a law on the books is New Jersey. Democratic Gov. Jon Corzine vetoed a bill to repeal the state's 6 percent tax on cosmetic surgery gross receipts in 2007, even after the repeal passed unanimously in both the state Assembly and Senate.
 
Malcolm Roth, vice president for health policy and advocacy at the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, said the New Jersey tax has only brought in about 25 percent of anticipated revenue since it was enacted in 2004 and imposes "another bureaucratic layer," including questions of how to determine what procedures are eligible. Roth said lawmakers at the federal level could expect the same administrative headaches and lack of anticipated revenues if they went down the New Jersey route.”
 
Not only is the cosmetic tax a revenue raising failure, it also imposes a tax disproportionately on women (92% of cosmetic surgeries) and Americans making less than $250,000 a year. A study commissioned by the American Society of Plastic Surgeons found that 71% of plastic surgeries were for individuals making less than $60,000 a year. Enacting a cosmetic tax discriminates economically against women and is a violation of Obama’s promise not to raise taxes on Americans making less than $250,000 a year.

 

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