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Potential “Botox Tax” Faces Resistance

Posted: August 18, 2009

A potential tax on cosmetic medical procedures, nicknamed the Botox Tax, is meeting resistance from physicians who provide these services.

The Botox tax, which was discussed by the Senate Finance Committee as a 10% excise tax on cosmetic surgery deemed unnecessary for medical purposes, is being considered for a version of the U.S. House of Representatives’ health care bill. It would potentially be part of the plan to fund the cost of health care reform efforts.

The tax would be aimed at any cosmetic surgery procedure prohibited under Section 213 of the Tax Code, which covers eligible and noneligible itemized deductions for medical expenses. According to Internal Revenue Service (IRS) Publication 502, that includes "any procedure that is directed at improving the patient's appearance and does not meaningfully promote the proper function of the body or prevent or treat illness or disease.”

Accordingly, procedures likely to be affected by this tax would include liposuction, face lifts, tummy tucks, rhinoplasty, hair transplants, breast augmentations, teeth whitening and injectable facial fillers, as well as other cosmetic aesthetic procedures.

Facing concerned physicians and patients, those fighting this potential tax have begun an organized opposition against it. A petition has popped up online at www.nobotax.org protesting the tax and calling for the support of industry physicians, aesthetic professionals and patients. Claiming the tax will lay the burden on women and the middle class—some of the primary recipients of cosmetic procedures—as well as medical professionals, the Web site encourages visitors to sign their names to the online petition in order to ensure the vitality of this market.