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VAT to be charged on cosmetic surgery

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Jobs for nurses working within the cosmetic surgery industry could be under threat after it was announced that the cost of facelifts and breast enlargement procedures will rise by 20% due to changes to VAT charged on plastic surgery.

In a bid to boost public finances, doctors carrying out such procedures must register for VAT and pass the added cost on to the patient, but HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) said the move only clarified existing laws in guidance sent to trade professionals.

However, this did not wash with many who are employed within the cosmetic surgery industry.

British Association of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons president Fazel Fatah said: “The subjective proposals being put forward by HMRC will potentially harm large numbers of patients.

“They imply that, by definition, any procedure that corrects appearance rather than function is not a medical need. There has been no meaningful discussion with the professional bodies involved.

“We can only hope that common ground can be found that protects the wellbeing of patients while balancing the obvious need to increase tax revenues. With surgery we are quite literally dealing with human lives.”

The updated guidance, seen by the Mail on Sunday, says: “Cosmetic services are usually performed so that the individual concerned may feel better about their appearance.

“The mere fact that a cosmetic treatment may make a person feel more confident about their appearance is not in itself sufficient.”

An HMRC spokesman said there was “no change in Government policy on VAT for cosmetic surgery”.

He added: “It is not charged on surgery for medical reasons, and is charged for surgery for aesthetic reasons.”


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