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Taxing the plastic, surgery that is

It seems the King of Plastic Surgery, ahem, the King of Pop, may have gotten away just in time. The Senate Finance Committee has discussed the possibility of a 10 percent excise tax on cosmetic surgery; essentially any procedure intended to “improve” your looks vs. improve your health.

Of course (why else?), the idea behind this is to bring in extra revenue, but would it?

The law defines cosmetic surgery as “any procedure which is directed at improving the patient’s appearance and does not meaningfully promote the proper function of the body or prevent or treat illness or disease.”

The IRS would allow deductions for procedures such as reconstructive surgery due to cancer or laser eye surgery.

In the past, many states have added this tax, only to realize it hardly brought in enough money to pay for the time, paper and ink it took for their governor to sign the bill into law. According to Congress Daily, the only state that currently has a law like this on the books is New Jersey. Congress Daily also reported that the tax has only brought in 25 percent of its anticipated revenue since it was enacted back in 2004.

You may also recall the 1990 deficit-reduction law, which prohibited taxpayers from writing off cosmetic procedures “unless the surgery or procedure is necessary to ameliorate a deformity arising from, or directly related to, a congenital abnormality, a personal injury resulting from an accident or trauma, or a disfiguring disease.”

This is essentially what the new law would entail. If you’re going in to transform those boobies from a sad, pancake of an A-cup to a plump and perky C or D-cup, well, you’re out of luck with this new tax. But if you’re going in for reconstructive surgery on your face because your girlfriend, Chyna, beat you up — again — last night after things got a little rough while playing Wii Fit, well, you’re covered in the tax department.

What will the porn industry do if this passes? Let alone how Pammy Anderson will be able to cope with life if she has to pay extra every time she gets a new boob job.

And as far as the King of Nose Jobs goes, it almost seems too perfect. Maybe M.J. planned this one out. He had to have saw this coming. The man has to have the world record for most plastic surgery jobs, and at the very least, most nose jobs. Michael Jackson and Jocelyn Wildenstein, also known as the Cat Woman — her face has become so distorted after innumerable plastic surgery operations to warrant a nickname — have to be way up on that list.

Moving away from celebrities and porn stars for the moment, let’s go back to high school and have a little Economics 101 refresher.

Taxes with broad bases and low rates are usually the best avenue to take because they minimize economic distortion. On the flip side, taxes like this proposed plastic surgery tax are bad because they discriminate against particular types of economic activity, essentially promoting unstable revenues.

Lesson: just because this tax may seem to be a fast way of boosting revenues — cosmetic surgery prices, as we all know, are through the roof and a 6 percent tax would mean some decent dough — it doesn’t mean it’s going to work in the long term, which, with excise taxes on such products as cigarettes and cell phones, proves not to work out as planned, or should I say wished.

And let’s not forget another important side to this proposed law. Eighty-six percent of cosmetic surgery patients are female. So women would be supporting the bulk of this tax. Again, this only reinforces the discriminatory nature of this tax.

What it sounds like to me is that Congress is scrambling to come up with taxes on anything and everything in order to try and dig its way out of our $11 trillion plus debt, though that whole idea is laughable because with the current state of the economy, that’s not going to happen any time soon; maybe not even in our grandchildren’s futures. Not to mention, we already can’t afford some of the basic necessities of life these days. Has Congress forgotten about the death of the stock market? We’re all scrounging for money!

Then again, perhaps a tax like this would dissuade some from getting procedures that are truly unnecessary. Let’s just go back to M.J. and Jocelyn, epitomes of bad cosmetic surgery.

Overall and in light of this, I think Congress could use a little plastic surgery…in the brain department.