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Follow the Money. Tan Tax vs. “BoTax” Racist? Discrimination?

Posted by D3forU on July 9, 2010

Below are many reasons given for removing the “BoTax” from the Health Care Bill late last year. You should note the common theme that it was successfully lobbied that this would discriminate against women. I can tell you that over 70% of indoor tanning clients are Female, 2/3’s of all salons are independently owned by women, and 98%+ all make less than $250,000 per year.

So how does this not discriminate against a small segment of the population, destroy small businesses, and go against the President’s explicit statement that there would be no new taxes on anyone making less then $250K?

Thanks to the lobbying efforts of the ASPS, Allergan, and plastic surgery portals such as RealSelf.com, women can continue to  improve their cosmetic appearance without taxation! For the past few weeks, the proposed 5% tax on cosmetic surgery became known as the Botax. The cosmetic surgery tax would have discriminated against women, since more than 90% of all cosmetic surgery is performed on women.

A last minute amendment to the new Obamacare Health Care bill, HR 3590, dropped the 5% cosmetic surgery tax , but included a 10% tax on tanning services. This tan tax was put in as a substitute for the initially proposed 5% tax on cosmetic surgery.

The exclusion of tax on cosmetic surgery is a win for women and we salute our lobbyist for a job well done!  While we are happy about our own outcome, we can’t help but wonder if this new tax will stifle the tanning industry.


Erasing the ‘Botax’ – On Nov. 21, shortly after the conclusion of the annual meeting, a 5 percent cosmetic surgery tax (the so-called “Botax”) was written into the Senate health care reform bill. Seen as a way to help pay for the enormous costs of the proposal, the tax was viewed initially as a “done deal” – after all, who would oppose a tax on “vanity surgery for the idle rich”? We immediately launched a grass-roots effort to educate senators and the public about the true scope of aesthetic surgery, the middle-class female population that would actually be impacted the most, and the very unfavorable experience with a similar tax in New Jersey.


This inappropriate and unfair “sin” tax has reared its ugly head again, only now in the U.S. Senate. It is amazing how our government looks for any way it can to creatively take money from the citizens in order to fund its excessive spending.
In my practice, 98% of my patients are women so this is clearly discrimination against them. Secondly, not all cosmetic patients are as wealthy as congress would like you to believe. The average income of cosmetic surgery patients is under $60,000 so this is not a tax on the super-rich but rather on normal every day citizens. By Richard P. Rand, MD – Seattle Plastic Surgeon

There are many problems in this type of taxation proposed by the U.S. Senate to the tax code. This is an unfair discriminatory tax against women since women represent 80% of plastic surgery practices. By William Portuese, MD – Seattle Facial Plastic Surgeon
Patients who have had plastic surgery know that the improvement in their self esteem and in many cases their social or professional positions as a result of plastic surgery should not be penalized by by what is essentially a “morality tax” on women. By Brent Moelleken, MD – Beverly Hills Plastic Surgeon

Hopefully plastic surgery spokeswoman Ms. Joan Rivers will be able to convince the lawmakers to defeat the bill based on the same arguments and cries that our country’s founding father’s used in Boston, “Taxation without representation!”. By Michael A. Persky, MD – Los Angeles Facial Plastic Surgeon

This tax additionally discriminates against women and the middle class, who are the two groups most likely to undergo aesthetic surgery By Adam David Lowenstein, MD – Santa Barbara Plastic Surgeon

The third is that any activity that is taxed will decrease in frequency. Fourth, females affected by a wide margin By John P. Stratis, MD – Harrisburg Plastic Surgeon

There has been lots of valid arguments presented before I had an opportunity to make mine. I raise questions whether a selected group can be subjected to increased taxation. Taxation by our constitution should not be discriminatory yet this one appers to be discriminatory for geneder, for specialty and selectivley affects one group more than others. By Julian Henley, MD – New Haven Facial Plastic Surgeon

No surprise that lawyers fees were not taxed, ironic given the number of lawyers making the laws. By Brent Moelleken, MD – Beverly Hills Plastic Surgeon

The Senate has clearly chosen expediency over fairness with this tax. The health care bill fails to address the real financial and decision making problems in health care: the massive administrative cost of health insurance companies, the bloated profit margins of health insurance companies, the medical decision making practiced by insurance companies, the cost of defensive medicine (vis a vis the lack of meaningful tort reform), and the cost of pharmaceuticals.

Instead, the Senate has decided to appease a major financial lobby, pushing through a bill that will only benefit insurance companies. In so doing, our elected representatives have decided to choose arbitrary and capricious means to pay for it. Given the bungled mess that this health care bill is, I wouldn’t be surprised if the cosmetic tax was filled with loopholes.  By Stephen Prendiville, MD – Ft. Myers Facial Plastic Surgeon

You have hit the nail on the head. This is a tax on vulnerable women who have just been laid off. Trying to bolster their applications for new jobs, some have elected to try Botox (or whatever) to compete with younger competition. Why be punitive? These women should be encouraged. Michael C. Pickart, M.D., F.A.C.S.


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