Tax Deductions for Breast Implants? It Happened
by Beauty Blogger Emmy Owens
Thinking of claiming a tax deduction for liposuction? Fat chance. If the idea of writing off cosmetic surgery this tax season is tempting, it’s probably a good idea to reconsider. The IRS is pretty specific when it comes to tax deductions for medical expenses related to aesthetic procedures such as facelifts, liposuction, and hair transplants.
But that’s not to say it’s impossible.
Exceptions exist for expenses paid for cosmetic surgery following an injury, or to correct a deformity caused by a disease or genetic abnormality.
“You have to consider why you’re paying for plastic surgery,” Vanessa Borges, an enrolled agent with Tax Defense Network, told Smart Beauty Guide. “If your reasoning isn’t supported by a contributing medical condition which requires such a procedure, the IRS generally will not permit the deduction for the expense.”
Given those guidelines, breast reduction, breast reconstruction, or scar revision surgery might qualify as deductions. So when a woman undergoes breast reconstruction surgery following a mastectomy, the reconstructive surgery, although also cosmetic and elective, would be a deductible medical expense. But breast augmentation that simply enlarges a woman’s breasts would not be deductible. There is even precedent for deducting the costs of skin removal after massive weight loss, tax attorney Jared R. Callister told Plastic Surgery Practice.
“Loose-hanging excess skin can be removed and be considered deductible if the skin mass interferes with the patient’s daily life or is prone to infection and disease,” Callister told the publication. “Again, as with most things, the exact facts and circumstances factor into this decision.”
Consider the circumstances, for example, of the stripper who convinced a judge that her breast implants qualified as the cost of doing business. The woman, who went by the stage name Chesty Love, saw her income enhanced significantly when she got customized size 56N breast implants. But the IRS wasn’t convinced the implants qualified as a deductible business expense. Instead, the agency characterized them as nondeductible personal expenses.
It isn’t clear exactly how much the woman paid for her augmentation, but cosmetic breast surgery specialists at The Plastic Surgery Group say the costs of getting breast implants at their Albany, New York, practice typically ranges from $6,000 to $7,000. In Love’s extreme case, that price tag may have been quite a bit larger.
So how did Love — whose real name is Cynthia Hess — convince a judge that her implants qualified as a business expense? To begin with, she testified that the implants were more of a nuisance in her daily life and that she planned to have them removed when her exotic dancing career ended. The court found that the implants were so large that they were essentially “stage props” designed solely to benefit her career.
That, he ruled, made them a write-off.