On December 15, 2009, this space reported on a planned cosmetic surgery tax of five percent. It was in a healthcare bill being considered by the U.S. Senate.

Now the Senate has replaced that tax with a ten percent tax on tanning salons. Apparently, cosmetic surgeons presented an effective opposition to that five percent tax, arguing that it would punish women unfairly, since most cosmetic patients are female. A very informative website was created to present the arguments against this tax.

Breast augmentation was the top cosmetic procedure in 2008 and Breast Lifts were close to the top at #6. Typically, men make up about ten percent of all cosmetic surgery patients, although that number has been rising.

Since the federal government is desperate to get more money somewhere, somehow, to cover their fantastical degree of spending over the past year, tanning salons are now targeted. They are fighting back, arguing that they already have heavily restricted access for teenagers and are already struggling in this poor economy. A new ten percent tax would put too much strain on their business.

Women Penalized Either Way

Salon owners are arguing that a tanning tax would punish women just as a cosmetic surgery tax would have, since most tanning customers are women. However, the tanning industry is not as large as the cosmetic surgery industry and they perhaps lack the lobbying power to fight effectively against this proposed tax. There are about 20,000 tanning salons nationwide, most being “Mom and Pop” businesses rather than large corporations.

One argument being presented in favor of a tanning tax is that it is linked to skin cancer and should be discouraged. This is a “sin tax” analogous to the cigarette tax, designed to discourage smoking but not to the point where no tax revenue would be collected.

However, if this is still a free country, it is the individual’s choice whether to smoke, get a suntan, or have liposuction, and not a government bureaucrat’s choice. Consumer education is the important thing so that when we make our choices, we know what risks we are taking, if any.

If you would like to learn more about the choices we offer at The Cosmetic Surgical Center, please call or email us today for a free consultation with Dr. Rai.