What do Botox injections and a box of crayons have in common? Answer: They're both taxable in New Jersey.
At the end of their last session, state lawmakers decided to impose a 6 percent sales tax on plastic surgery, including breast augmentation, facelifts, hair transplants, dermabrasion and chemical peel, laser hair removal and cosmetic dentistry. It appears to be the nation's first-ever levy on surgical procedures.
The move is expected to generate $25 million a year, which will go toward funding a 53 percent increase in New Jersey's health care programs for indigents. Tom Vincz, a spokesman for the state Department of Treasury, calls it "a logical and progressive way to meet our charity care obligations."
The tax, which took effect September 1, applies only to procedures that are considered cosmetic, rather than medically necessary. But doctors claim that sometimes those two categories overlap. And they also warn that the tax likely represents the start of a slippery slope.
That's why the state medical society has joined in the lobbying effort seeking repeal. "Others are up in arms because they're fearful that they're next," says Allen Rosen, a plastic surgeon in Montclair, who also complains that the cosmetic tax discriminates against "middle-class women between the ages of 19 and 55."