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Utah: ASPS Fights Cosmetic Medical Procedure Tax

Just two weeks before the Utah legislature was scheduled to adjourn, a tax overhaul bill was introduced in the Utah House of Representatives that would levy a new 3.1 percent sales tax on all cosmetic medical procedures. Under the current tax code, cosmetic medical procedures are exempt from taxation, creating a favorable business climate and strong market demand for cosmetic procedures in the state. ASPS strongly opposes cosmetic taxes because they discriminate against middle-class women and fail to deliver the revenue generation promised to taxpayers while jeopardizing small businesses and jobs in the state.

Unfortunately, the 260-page tax bill was fast-tracked immediately after its introduction and passed a last-minute hearing in the House Revenue and Taxation Committee only a day after it was introduced – paving the way for the measure to be voted on by the full House of Representatives. After learning of the bill's introduction, ASPS immediately mobilized engagement efforts with the Utah Society of Plastic Surgeons (USPS) and the Utah Medical Association (UMA) to prevent the bill from passing the House. ASPS deployed a grassroots advocacy alert to all Utah ASPS members requesting that they contact their legislator and urge them to remove the cosmetic tax provision from the underlying bill. ASPS also mobilized the Stop Medical Taxes Coalition, a coalition of stakeholders dedicated to defeating state medical taxes, by sharing the grassroots alert with coalition members so they could also encourage their Utah membership to engage on the measure.

In anticipation of a House floor vote, ASPS worked with USPS and UMA to draft comments and a local op-ed to inform legislators and the public about the negative consequences that this bill would have on small businesses and patients in Utah. Thankfully, strong opposition from a diverse group of stakeholders in the state helped kill the bill in the House chamber before a vote was scheduled on the measure. The tax reform bill failed upon adjournment of the Utah legislature on March 14.

Utah Governor Gary Herbert plans to convene a special session of the Utah legislature in the summer to revisit the issue of tax reform. ASPS expects the cosmetic tax will remain in that proposal and will support in-state efforts to remove that provision from the bill.