Tourists’ cosmetic surgery tax refunds extended

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Tourists’ cosmetic surgery tax refunds extended

Foreign tourists receiving cosmetic surgeries in Korea will be able to continue receiving a value-added tax refund until the end of next year, the Ministry of Health and Welfare announced on Wednesday.

Foreign tourists receiving certain medical services in Korea prescribed by a presidential decree were formerly eligible to receive a refund of VAT on the services until March 31, 2017, according to the Restriction of Special Taxation Act.

“The amendment to the act was passed at the National Assembly on Friday,” the Health Ministry said in its press release on Wednesday, “and the policy will now be extended to Dec. 31 of 2017.”

These medical services exclude internal medicine and surgeries in general, but include certain types of cosmetic surgeries like breast enhancement, facial contouring or rejuvenation. Also included are body contouring procedures such as liposuction, as well as dermatological care like acne treatment, hair transplant, tattoos, tattoo removal and piercing.

According to the ministry, 384 plastic surgery clinics have been conducting VAT refunds for foreigners since April, when the policy was established.

The ministry said 92 cosmetic surgery clinics and 78 dermatology clinics, both among the top-100 cosmetic surgery and dermatology clinics in the country, have been refunding VAT to tourists.

An average of 110 VAT refunds was conducted per day, and some 6.2 billion won ($5.3 million) have been refunded in total since April, the ministry said.

To receive VAT refunds, a foreign tourist who paid for cosmetic surgery at a designated clinic registered with the Health Ministry needs to bring a receipt and a statement from the service provider, and present them to airports or ports within three months of the receipt of service.

BY ESTHER CHUNG [chung.juhee@joongang.co.kr]

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