A tax on teeth whitening and tummy tucks
Thursday, December 3rd, 2009
Federal lawmakers are proposing a fundraising plan that, so far, has only been tried in New Jersey. WHYY reports on the so-called Botox Tax.
They're also calling it the bo-tax. The Senate health reform plan includes a 5 percent tax on elective cosmetic surgery. Dr. Leo McCafferty is secretary of the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery.
McCafferty: We feel that it is somewhat discriminatory because 80 percent of the cosmetic surgery patients are female, and it's not just for the very wealthy anymore. The average household income of patients is somewhere between 30 and 90 thousand dollars a year.
He says the tax could keep people from procedures that greatly improve their quality of life, even when the surgery is not medically necessary. In 2006, lawmakers tried, unsuccessfully, to repeal New Jersey's cosmetic surgery tax. Many patients now commute to neighboring Pennsylvania and New York to get their work done tax free.
Assemblyman Joe Cryan says New Jersey's tax raises less than half of the annual revenue lawmakers hope for. He says the levy was conceived as a luxury tax that would mainly affect wealthy people.
Cryan: These are procedures that are used by everyday New Jerseyans. These are people that save. So business was impacted, and we think that we sent things across the river, and we also think that people literally just turned away because of the additional costs.