Cosmetic Surgery Tips

Can I Write Off My Breast Augmentation

If you’re thinking about getting breast implants, you might be wondering whether or not it is possible to write off this surgery as a business expense. After all, if you plan on using the implants to attract more customers or clients and make more money, then they’re a business expense—right?

Unfortunately, no. The IRS has strict rules regarding what can and cannot be written off as a business expense. In order for something to qualify as a deductible medical expense, it must be “necessary for maintaining health” or “for curing or alleviating a physical defect or illness” (26 U.S. Code § 213(d)). You can also get answers such as is a tummy tuck tax deductible and is rhinoplasty tax deductible.

In order for your breast augmentation surgery to qualify as a deductible medical expense, you would need to show that the procedure was necessary for maintaining your health. While some women may claim that their cosmetic surgeries are medically necessary in order to maintain their health, such an argument would not stand up in court because it would not meet the substantial burden of proof required by the IRS.

Woman doing taxes, considering writing off her cosmetic surgery

Whether you’re a business owner, queen of side hustles, or working a traditional 9-5, we could all use a little help offsetting the day-to-day costs of working and living. As the W2s and 1099s roll in, you may be looking for ways to maximize your refund (or minimize what you owe)—and if looking great is part of your job, you may be wondering if you can write off your cosmetic surgery.

Before we delve into the details, we should get the bad news out of the way: barring very special circumstances, it’s unlikely that the IRS is going to let you deduct expenses for your breast augmentation or liposuction—even if you need to maintain a certain look for your work.

Here’s what you need to know if you work in the entertainment industry and are hoping to deduct expenses related to your personal appearance.

What are “personal appearance expenses?”

Performing artists and those in the entertainment industry routinely incur expenses related to maintaining their image, known as personal appearance expenses. Typically, these expenses include certain types of clothing, stage makeup, and certain hair and body care goods. Rules surrounding deduction of personal appearance expenses are incredibly strict, and most purchases don’t make the cut.

Makeup or clothing that can be used for business and recreation will be rejected, while items such as for-work-only specialty costumes and professional stage makeup have a higher chance of being deductible.

As a rule of the thumb, only expenses incurred for goods and services that are used only for work can be deducted. That means makeup or clothing that can be used for business and recreation will be rejected, while specialty costumes or professional-grade stage makeup may have a higher chance of being deductible.

Is cosmetic surgery a personal appearance expense that can be deducted?

Technically, cosmetic surgery falls under the category of personal appearance expenses, though it lives in somewhat of a grey area. That’s because permanent modification to your body is difficult to categorize as being solely for work—unlike a special costume, you can’t “take it off” when you clock out.

If the likelihood of being able to write off other personal appearance expenses is rare, deducting the cost of your cosmetic surgery is near impossible—despite the well-known case of Cynthia Hess (AKA “Chesty Love”), an adult entertainer who successfully claimed her breast augmentation as a business expense in the early ‘90s.

How Cynthia perpetuated the myth of deducting cosmetic surgery on your taxes (and why you probably can’t do the same)

While Hess did indeed win her case with the IRS and go on to enjoy newfound success after her procedure and subsequent notoriety, it’s important to fully understand how she was able to meet the strict criteria the government places on personal appearance expenses.

Two conditions in particular must be met for the IRS to consider your personal appearance expenses a valid business deduction:

  1. The goods, services, or personal enhancements must be required as a condition of your employment (for instance, a uniform).
  2. The goods, services, or personal enhancements must be unsuitable for everyday use.

Essentially, you have to prove that your cosmetic surgery is necessary for you to do your job and that the resulting outcome not only doesn’t benefit your everyday life but is also inappropriate for it.

As you can imagine, meeting those conditions requires an extreme form of cosmetic surgery—and Hess’s eventual size 56N bust fit the bill. As an exotic dancer, Hess claimed she experienced smaller earnings due to her smaller breast size, and her agent suggested she opt for an excessive enhancement to improve her career. While she did experience an uptick in her earnings, her success came with a cost, including daily discomfort, bacterial infections, and ridicule from the public during her off hours.

The case of Cynthia Hess is a rare exception to the tax deduction rules—and her extreme breast augmentation came with a lifetime of discomfort.

With all of these factors, it was difficult for the IRS to argue that Hess’s surgery was motivated by anything other than success at work—and the tax court judge approved the deduction and categorized her breast implants as stage props. The case of Cynthia Hess is by and large a rare exception to the rule, and her extreme breast augmentation came with a lifetime of discomfort which could never be worth the amount saved on one year’s taxes.

Make sure your motivation for surgery is healthy (and we’ll make sure you understand your financing options)

Most patients who choose to have cosmetic surgery do so to feel more confident and comfortable day-to-day, in any work, social, or other setting—and enjoying success in your career should be thought of as a cherry on top, not your primary motivator. If an employer is urging you to consider extreme body modifications that will cause turmoil in your personal life, it may be time to consider a new job.

That being said, we work with a number of Las Vegas entertainers who hope to enhance their appearance, and our primary goal is to help achieve a look you’ll love safely. Las Vegas cosmetic surgeon Dr. Pancholi is well-known for his artistry and surgical skill, particularly when it comes to breast augmentation. As a trusted cosmetic surgery authority, Dr. Pancholi stays up-to-date on the latest advancements in surgical techniques, scar-minimizing methods, and breast implant technology so he can ensure beautiful outcomes, speedy recovery, and a safe, positive experience.

Stellar results don’t come cheaply, and we understand that cosmetic surgery isn’t always in the budget. That’s why we will help you understand your payment and financing options so you can move forward confidently. Contact us today to learn more during a private consult.

Is A Tummy Tuck Tax Deductible

Abdominoplasty procedures can easily cost over $10,000. Medical costs can be deducted on Schedule A of your tax return, just like any other itemized deductions. Your abdominoplasty may be tax deductible even though the IRS generally does not allow deductions for elective cosmetic procedures.

Cosmetic Surgery and the Internal Revenue Service
The cosmetic surgery rules of the IRS are crystal clear. Spending on “unnecessary cosmetic surgery” is not tax deductible. Treatments and surgeries that restore or improve a person’s health are tax deductible according to the Internal Revenue Service. You can deduct the cost of breast reconstruction surgery after a mastectomy, for instance, because it returns your body to its condition before the cancer was discovered.

Tummy tucks that actually work
Those who experience significant weight loss after undergoing bariatric surgery may develop rashes and fungal infections in the skin folds as a result of excessive perspiration. The medical condition would require drastic measures, and a tummy tuck would be one of those measures. Discuss your options with your surgeon and a tax expert if you’re thinking about getting a tummy tuck to alleviate symptoms related to excess skin.

A Choice Made Out of “Chesty Love”
When cosmetic surgery is required for professional reasons, the U.S. Tax Court has established precedent allowing the cost to be written off as a business expense. As a business expense, “Chesty Love,” an exotic dancer, tried to write off getting breast implants. The IRS disagreed, but the Tax Court sided with her because it equated the implants to props used in a play. This ruling could be used to justify a tummy tuck as a business expense if you can show that the way your stomach looks is critical to the success of your business. Consult a tax attorney before moving forward with this plan.

Worries About Artificial Intelligence and Other Forms of Automation
There are two additional considerations that might mean you can’t write off your tummy tuck. With the 2013 tax year, the IRS only allows you to deduct medical costs that exceed 10% of your adjusted gross income. To put it another way, if your adjusted gross income is $100,000 and your tummy tuck costs $11,500, you can deduct only $1,500.

You cannot deduct medical costs if you are subject to the Alternative Minimum Tax. As a result, a tummy tuck performed for medical reasons would no longer be tax deductible.

Is Rhinoplasty Tax Deductible

Given that its purpose is to treat a deformity, correct a medical problem, prevent a mental disability or illness, etc., then yes, it is. The human body is not designed to prevent or treat disease. Payment for unnecessary cosmetic surgery is rarely deductible as a medical expense. In this context, “cosmetic procedure” refers to any intervention whose sole purpose is to enhance the patient’s appearance, rather than to help the patient’s health in any way (such as by preventing or treating disease). Costs associated with cosmetic procedures like rhinoplasty, hair transplantation, and laser hair removal are not deductible in the same way that medical costs are.

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