Tax on Plastic Surgery
Here in New York, Dr. David Shafer sees a lot of patients with a desire to improve their physical appearance. But while the Big Apple is one of the top spots in the U.S. to undergo plastic surgery, the number of people getting treatments doesn’t even come close to the number of plastic surgery patients in South Korea.
South Korea has the highest rate of plastic surgery per capita in the world, but now, it seems like locals are going to have to pay a little extra for their nips and tucks. The Seoul government is pledging to levy tax on cosmetic procedures, invasive and non-invasive. The only procedures that will not be taxable will be scar removal and eye sight and alignment improvements. That pretty much leaves the vast majority of the population to scramble up and save some extra cash for their desired treatments.
Starting January, plastic surgery treatments will be subject to a 10% value-added tax – a pretty hefty tax at that. However, the levy isn’t as unexpected as one might think. Since President Park Geun-hye’s inauguration in February, her government has been trying to address a tax-revenue shortfall following an economic slowdown, so, back in February, the government propose to include a new tax that would include religious institutions, clergymen, and of course, plastic surgery. The bill has yet to be approved by parliament, but it could mean a lot of extra revenue for the nation.
According to a ministry official, expanding the number of plastic surgeries that can be taxed does not require a National Assembly vote and will be enforced regardless. But not everyone is agreeing with the move. A spokesman for the Korean Association of Plastic Surgeons argued against the tax levy, saying that it will affect foreign clients who often turn to South Korean plastic surgeons for treatments. No one wants to be taxed on surgical procedures, so the prospective patients will most likely go elsewhere for their cosmetic enhancement treatments.
According to the International Society of Aesthetic Plastic Surgery, 770,913 procedures were performed in 2010 alone, which equates to 1 in 64 South Koreans having some form of plastic surgery that year. But until this year, only the five most popular treatments – double-eyelid surgery (blepharoplasty), rhinoplasty, liposuction, breast augmentation and wrinkle reduction –were taxed.
With each year that passes, cosmetic surgery trends tend to change, which means that while blepharoplasty may be the nation’s hottest procedure one year, the next year it might be a minimally invasive treatment like Botox. The ministry is clever to note how the rise of new, less invasive procedures can contribute to the tax revenue, so it’s only common sense that it would take the necessary steps to expand the number of procedures that are taxable.
Currently, Seoul is experiencing a rise jaw reshaping surgery (maxillary surgery) as well as double jaw surgery (bimaxillary surgery). And according to the nation’s president, the government is merely following the international standard to impose taxes on non-medical procedures that are not covered by insurance.
In addition to the plastic surgery treatments, dermatological procedures will also be subject to the tax, including hair implant and removal procedures as well as acne treatments. Anyone thinking about getting any sort of aesthetic work done should maybe look into saving some extra money or seeking treatments elsewhere.