Home » COMMENTARY » An Interesting Rewrite for the Vanity Tax H.R. 3590 Looks As if Congress Found a Vanity Product with Enough Sin to Justify a Tax

An Interesting Rewrite for the Vanity Tax H.R. 3590 Looks As if Congress Found a Vanity Product with Enough Sin to Justify a Tax

By Stacie Clifford Kitts, CPA

It is all over the news; the Dems have enough votes to push the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act on ward. But what has been eliminated from the latest version of the bill has me wondering – was it – our stimulating online debate that finally killed the dreaded 5% booby tax (i.e. the cosmetic surgery tax). Hmmmm …okay so it was most likely the influential lobbying by the American Health Association who strongly opposed the tax that murdered it.

But you know what; I’m all a-glow just the same. Congress – it appears – has responded to my points from a previous post where I chastise our lawmakers for attempting to tax the sinless personal choice of cosmetic enhancements.

I can’t say that I am totally opposed to taxing
behavior. That is, I agree with sin taxes. Taxes on cigarettes and alcohol for
instance do provide a certain amount of good since these products have been
shown to cause harm to the public welfare. Likewise, the cost of treating people
who have made themselves sick by indulging in unhealthy activities or behaviors
must be considered – I get that – and if a tax on so called unhealthy products
helps to relieve the public burden, then so be it.

But is cosmetic surgery really
sinful? Personally, I fail to see how it is. Maybe our lawmakers can explain to
me how slimmer hips, larger breasts, or plumper lips harms the public welfare or
places a financial burden on the government.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?

I am all for affordable health care,
balancing the budget, and reducing debt. But come on lawmakers, I find it hard
to believe that you can’t do better.


In response to my argument, it would appear that our lawmakers did find a vanity procedure that fits the sin criteria. The new vanity target – tanning salons. Here is a portion of the amended law:

(a) IN GENERAL.—The provisions of, and amendments made by, section 9017 of this Act are hereby deemed null, void, and of no effect.

Subtitle D of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986, as amended by this Act, is amended by adding at the end the following new chapter:

Sec. 5000B. Imposition of tax on indoor tanning services.

(a) IN GENERAL.—There is hereby imposed on any indoor tanning service a tax equal to 10 percent of the amount paid for such service (determined without regard to this section), whether paid by insurance or otherwise.

But what is even more telling is this tid bit found over at Kay Bell’s blog Don’t Mess with Taxes

“Congressional bean counters had estimated the Bo-Tax would bring in $5.8
billion over the next decade. The Tan Tax, which would go into effect next July,
is projected to produce $2.7 billion over 10 years.

But that loss of revenue is OK, because the new tax addresses health

Or as one anonymous aide put it, the tanning tax was added out of
“concern that use of these tanning beds creates a health problem with respect to cancer.”

Well, I guess I got what I wanted, a tax that benefits the public welfare and relieves the public burden by taxing those people who intentionally expose themselves to cancer causing tanning beds.

Geez, I sure do hope that smog doesn’t cause cancer otherwise our lawmakers might tack on an excise smog tax for my sinful choice to live in California and breathe in the foul air.

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