Britain may slap tax on cosmetic surgeries

The taxman in Britain is proposing to impose Value Added Tax (VAT) on facelifts and breast enlargements hiking the costs of the procedures by 20 per cent. New guidance issued by the Revenue and Customs means doctors performing purely cosmetic operations -- which may also include tummy tucks and liposuction -- must register for the tax and pass the charge on to patients.

The move -- adding about �1,000 (Rs 77,500) to a breast operation and reportedly expected to raise up to �500 million a year for public finances -- has been criticised by members of the profession.

'Boob tax': Under the new guidance, all tummy tucks, liposuctions,
facelifts, breast enlargements, tattoo removals will be charged VAT,
making procedures 20 per cent more expensive.
Representation pic/thinkstock images

British Association of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons president Fazel Fatah said, "The subjective proposals being put forward by HMRC will potentially harm large numbers of patients. They imply that, by definition, any procedure that corrects appearance rather than function is not a medical need. There has been no meaningful discussion with the professional bodies involved. We can only hope that common ground can be found that protects the wellbeing of patients while balancing the obvious need to increase tax revenues. With surgery we are quite literally dealing with human lives."

Consultant plastic surgeon Douglas McGeorge criticised the new guidance, saying, "Should prominent ear correction be taxed; an operation performed on young children to prevent them being bullied and developing psychological problems?

"What level of asymmetry or abnormality is required to justify breast surgery? When do large breasts create enough of a physical problem to allow treatment?"
An HMRC spokesman said there was "no change in Government policy on VAT for cosmetic surgery".

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