BOOB TAX. Sorry lads, it’s true.
We all know the Government likes to tax fun, with both cigarettes and alcohol suffering ‘sin taxes’ in the form of excise duty. Now, the Government has realised that they can tax funbags as well.
Of course, much to the chagrin of employees of HMRC who were eagerly eyeing up their tape measures, this tax does not apply to naturally endowed ladies, merely those who seek to artificially enhance their boobage*
The tax in question is actually VAT, as medical procedures are exempt from VAT. However, new Revenue guidance suggests that cosmetic surgery, including boob jobs, nose jobs and penis enlargements, which are not required for health reasons should, in fact be subject to VAT at 20%. Practitioners offering purely cosmetic procedures should therefore register for VAT.
Unsurprisingly, the British Association of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons are not fans of the new approach. President Fazel Fatah said: "The subjective proposals being put forward by HMRC will potentially harm large numbers of patients…With surgery we are quite literally dealing with human lives."
The Sun, for whom maths are not a strong point, estimating an average increase of £1,000 by applying 20% VAT to the average £4,000 cost of a boob job, took a different tack. Rather than finding two girls to photograph with large and unsightly noses, they interviewed two ladies blessed with large mammaries, one real and one fake.
Natural 30F Page 3 girl Peta Todd was in favour of the proposal and said, “in the same way that I should be expected to pay VAT when I buy make-up or a nice top, people who are having a boob job or other surgery simply to make themselves look better should also have to pay the tax.” She also revealed hidden psychoanalysis skills, adding “many people think a boob job, a tummy tuck or a facelift is the answer to their problems, when really it's the deeper issue of a lack of self confidence or self esteem that they need to tackle.”
TOWIE’s Jessica Wright, whose 32DDs are surgically enhanced disagrees “I didn't have particularly low confidence or self esteem before, but having a boob job is something I've always wanted and now I feel that I look my best. Why should I be penalised for that when it hasn't harmed anyone or even cost anyone else a penny?”
So is this a change in the law then?
Joking aside, whether you agree that cosmetic surgery should be subject to the same consumption tax as any other commodity or not, there is no change in the law, merely a change in interpretation of the law that has been in place since 1994.
Surgeons were previously advised by accountants not to register for VAT but HMRC officials insist VAT should always have been paid on cosmetic procedures unless they are part of a "health care treatment programme" and say they are now simply "clarifying" existing rules.
An HMRC spokesman told the Telegraph there was "no change in Government policy on VAT for cosmetic surgery". He added "[VAT] is not charged on surgery for medical reasons, and is charged for surgery for aesthetic reasons."
But what does the law say? The VAT exemption in question refers to medical services provided by a registered practitioner, and the class of exemption is entitled “Health and Welfare”. While it is perhaps easy to determine whether or not a procedure is necessary for health reasons, welfare is an altogether different kettle of rhinoplasty. Most patients would argue that they feel better after a cosmetic procedure, meaning it has contributed to their welfare. In any case, the relevant sections of the VAT Act do not actually require the procedure to be for either Health or Welfare purposes merely to be performed by a medical practitioner. And if you are getting new boobs from someone who is not a medical practitioner, VAT is probably the least of your worries.
It seems HMRC may again be issuing guidance that is outside the law that they actually bound by. Still, there is nothing to stop the Government introducing new laws to make new boobs taxable in future. Quick ladies, get ‘em done quick!
*This is, in fact, an actual word. Bitterwallet editor Andy did a comprehensive Google Image search to make sure.