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The New Jersey Tax on Plastic Surgery

Jun 8, 2008
New Jersey plastic surgeons felt they were being singled out when NJ state passed a law requiring elective plastic surgery services to be taxed back in 2004. No other state in the United States allows taxes to be collected for any sort of medical procedure.

The 2004 law was passed to tax cosmetic and plastic surgery in New Jersey as an effort to raise funds in the state. Originally this law was expected to bring in over $25 million in its first year. The tax didn't quite work as intended and only ended up pulling in about $7 million in tax fees on services provided by NJ plastic surgeons.

Governor John McGreevy signed the bill into law and it sounded somewhat reasonable at the time. The law states that only "certain cosmetic medical procedures that are directed at improving the patient's appearance and that do not promote the proper function of the body or prevent or treat illness or disease."

That means you'll pay tax on purely cosmetic services, but not one surgeries that improve your physical health. So a New Jersey plastic surgeon can perform a rhinoplasty to help you breathe better and you will not pay any taxes on the service. If, however, a New Jersey plastic surgeon performs a breast augmentation for beauty reasons then that service may be subject to the equivalent sales tax.

The law's text lists a number of elective cosmetic surgery procedures which are subject to the tax. Among those procedures which New Jersey now taxes are any form of cosmetic surgery, cosmetic injections, cosmetic soft tissue fillers, hair transplants, dermabrasion and chemical peels, laser hair removal, laser skin resurfacing, laser treatment of leg veins, sclerotherapy, and cosmetic dentistry.

This tax supposedly marked the first time that a tax had been imposed on any medical operation in the United States. New Jersey plastic surgeons were obviously not happy about this and many complained that this tax would continue forcing people to go to other states for their medical needs. Many plastic and cosmetic surgeons in New Jersey spoke out in the news media when the tax was first introduced.

While this is a only a New Jersey phenomenon so far, it has piqued the interest of lawmakers in other states. States such as Texas, Illinois, Washington, Arkansas, Tennessee and New York have all introduced bills to tax certain cosmetic surgery procedures, but so far none of the new laws have passed.

The original sponsor of the bill, Joseph Cryan, has since tried to get the law repealed, but the repeal has not yet received enough votes.

Only time will tell if the tax will be repealed or stay on the books in the future. For now NJ cosmetic and plastic surgeons are dealing with this tax the best they can.
About the Author
The New Jersey Plastic Surgeon Site is dedicated to helping people find, choose and work with the best New Jersey plastic surgeon for them.
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