More cosmetic procedures to be taxed

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More cosmetic procedures to be taxed

The Ministry of Strategy and Finance announced yesterday that it will extend a 10 percent value-added tax on a wider range of cosmetic treatments and procedures - including jawbone reconfiguration, body hair removal, skin care treatments, hair loss treatments and eyebrow tattooing.

The new code will come into effect as early as next January after a consultation process, with no exception for tourists visiting Korea for such treatments.

A local news report speculated that the government’s keen interest in medical tourism might lead to a waiver for foreign visitors, but the Finance Ministry shot down that idea.

The five most common treatments - nose jobs, liposuction, wrinkle removal, breast jobs and double-eyelid surgery - have been subject to the value-added tax since 2011.

The extra revenue from the overhaul will be used to help alleviate the country’s ballooning social welfare bill as the government eagerly looks to secure additional tax revenues across different channels.

The government said earlier this year that the change is expected to bring in 2.49 trillion won ($2.3 billion) in revenue over the next five years.

Yesterday’s announcement is likely to prompt the beauty conscious to flock to cosmetic surgery clinics this winter. November and December tend to be the busiest months, with many college-bound students seeking to polish themselves up after relentless study sessions.

After Hungary, Korea has the second-largest number of plastic surgery procedures in the world relative to the size of its population, according to the International Society of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons. The organization found that 770,913 plastic surgery procedures were performed in 2010, putting Korea seventh on a global list in terms of the total number of operations.

BY PARK EUN-JEE [ejpark@joongang.co.kr]

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