By Stacie Clifford Kitts, CPA
Mary O-Keeffe over at Bed buffaloes in your tax code has responded to my post:
Let’s Talk Fuller Lips, Larger Breasts, Slimmer Thighs, and H.R. 3590 (Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.).
Her answer to my question is thoughtful and while I do agree with Mary’s point that there is some government subsidizing in the medical profession, I think her argument provides fodder for the slippery slope that this type of public policy inspires.
In my previous post, I say:
- “But what is even more perplexing is just how or why cosmetic surgery won the tax lottery. I fear that this type of legislation opens the door for a whole litany of WTF taxes. I mean why not tack on an additional tax for hair coloring, nail salons, or makeup. These are also vanity products. Frankly where does it stop?”
Mary’s answer is this:
- “The government provides large subsidies for the education of physicians. Yes,they do pay tuition, often taking out large loans to do so, but their tuition does not cover all the costs of their training. Government subsidies for medical education make up the difference. At the moment, people who purchase cosmetic surgery services are getting it at a discount thanks to the general public’s subsidies of their physicians’ training.”
Given the current economic state, and the need for our government to find revenue sources, I worry what source will be next.
Are we now to accept that any government subsidized product or profession is subject to this excise tax? If this is your position, then be wary, there are hundreds of thousands of government subsidies in all types and forms.
Tell me – are we now to explore the background of every product that we buy and determine if the government ever subsidized research or provided tax breaks? How soon do you think it will be before it becomes “public policy” to tax all of our choices, in products, or services, or lifestyle? Moreover, who gets to decide which items are wicked enough to be taxed first.
So again, I ask, why did cosmetic surgery win the tax lottery, why not the treatment of acne? After all dermatologists went to medical school too, their education was also subsidized. The answer is clear, because taxing little pimple faced teenagers for their acne treatment would tick people off. It doesn’t matter that this procedure is also elective and even vanity driven.
However, people who elect to have cosmetic surgery are perceived as vain, spoiled, overindulged, and sinful.
Do you see how letting our government tax our life choices even when those choices are not harmful to the public welfare creates a morality clause in our tax system by giving lawmakers the power to tax those items or services that they believe are wrong?
More good thought-provoking questions!I don't have answers for them all, but some thoughts are here:http://bedbuffalos.blogspot.com/2009/12/more-on-taxing-cosmetic-surgery.html
And just so you don't think I'm picking on consumers and providers of plastic surgery, I think that the higher education market deserves the same kind of careful scrutiny.http://bedbuffalos.blogspot.com/2009/12/closer-to-home-taxes-on-tuition.html
Hi MaryOn the contrary, I think you make some valid arguments. I am working on a follow up post which will most likely be my last on the topic.