By Stacie Clifford Kitts, CPA
I just want to go briefly back to one point that was missed during my extensive commentary about the Vanity Tax.
You may have read a couple of posts I have written regarding my disapproval of this tax commonly known as the cosmetic surgery tax which is included in the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (HR 3590).
If you want to catch up, here are the links to the previous posts:
You might also recall that Mary O’Keeffe over at Bed buffaloes in your tax code wrote some good responses to my posts and even answered some of the questions posed in my ramblings.
The gist of my angst over this tax issue really arises from my query as to why it is that Cosmetic surgery won the tax lottery.
As I pointed out in previous posts:
The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act has declared VANITY as the eighth
deadly sin punishable by the imposition of a 5%excise tax.
The bill, which apprises to seek affordable healthcare also imposes an additional tax on those people wishing to improve their appearance or self-esteem via cosmetic
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.
Mary also ponders on this question and in her post More on taxing cosmetic surgery, subsidies, and tax simplification She makes this observation.
Our existing tax code already makes a distinction between its treatment of
cosmetic surgery (which is not tax-deductible on Schedule A, nor is it eligible
for tax-excluded flexible spending account use) and treatment of acne (which is,
I believe, eligible for both tax breaks.) But you haven’t complained about that
distinction in existing tax law?
Well here is where I complain, thanks for the reminder:
Absent some brilliant legal argument regarding why acne treatments should or should not qualify for a tax deduction let me just put this out there where it belongs.
The distinction Mary mentions that includes acne treatments, as deductible vs. the non-deducibility of elective cosmetic procedures is in my opinion a clear example of the TAX THE OTHER GUY SYNDROME.
Consider this, the reshaping of one’s enormous nose may to have found its way to the tax-deductible pages of some legislation had that “problem” been a common issue for lawmakers. Had their children been unfortunate enough to be saddled with some enormous honker, then we might be talking about THE ENORMOUS NOSE REDUCTION ACT.
Why then can we deduct the cost of acne treatments?
The answer is as plain as the nose on my face, because our lawmakers and their children know the embarrassment and social stigma associated with acne. Acne is a universal and relatable vanity issue. Acne simply represents the “average guy.”
And what does the average guy do, he says, tax the other guy!
So then, what happens?
Well, we get the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act which shoves its fist between the couch cushions of the OTHER GUY in search of loose change.