Tax Attorney Analysis of Potential IRS Tax Court Ruling-Tax Audit or Tax Problem From Plastic Surgery Expense Deductions.
Los Angeles – San Franciso Tax Attorney – The rate of plastic surgery in California especially in Los Angeles, Beverly Hills, Malibu, Pacific Palisades, Manhattan Beach, Palos Verdes, Newport Beach, Orange County, San Jose, San Franciso have seen dramatic increases over the last decade.
As tax attorneys, we are often asked by our clients in the entertainment industry whether certain surgical enhancements may be claimed as a deduction or expense.
Most tax lawyers are aware of the IRS Tax Court case involving “Chesty Love.” To generate more revenue from her profession as a stripper, Chesty Love decided to get breast implants to make her a size 56-FF and expensed the cost of the surgery. IRS tax court judge allowed Chesty to write off the cost of her operation equating her breast enhancement as a necessary expense alas “stage prop” to generate revenue.
However, can ordinary IRS taxpayers deduct breast implants or eye surgery and not run into tax problems in the event of a tax audit?
According to the IRS Attorney Tax Revenue Ruling #200357 issued by the IRS ,amounts paid by individuals for breast surgery, breast implants, vision correction surgery, and teeth whitening medical care expenses within the meaning of IRS Code § 213(d) may be deductible under § 213 of the Internal Revenue Code?
Hypothetical IRS Tax Court Case Scenario 1- Breast Implants and Tax:
Taxpayer A undergoes mastectomy surgery that removes a breast as part of treatment for cancer and pays a surgeon to reconstruct the breast.
Hypothetical IRS Tax Court Case Scenario 2 – Lasik and Tax:
Taxpayer B wears glasses to correct myopia and pays a doctor to perform laser eye surgery to correct the myopia.
Hypothetical IRS Tax Court Case Scenario 3 – Teeth Whitening and Tax:
Taxpayer C’s teeth are discolored as a result of age. C pays a dentist to perform a teeth-whitening procedure. A, B, and C are not compensated for their expenses by insurance or otherwise.
IRS Tax Court Rulings:
General IRS Tax Law or Tax Code Applicable to Medical Expenses:
Section 213(a) allows a deduction for expenses paid during the taxable year, not compensated for by insurance or otherwise, for medical care of the taxpayer, spouse, or dependent, to the extent the expenses exceed 7.5 percent of adjusted gross income. Under § 213(d)(1)(A), medical care includes amounts paid for the diagnosis, cure, mitigation, treatment, or prevention of disease, or for the purpose of affecting any structure or function of the body.
Medical care does not include cosmetic surgery or other similar procedures, unless the surgery or procedure is necessary to ameliorate a deformity arising from, or directly related to, a congenital abnormality, a personal injury resulting from an accident or trauma, or a disfiguring disease. Section 213(d)(9)(A). Cosmetic surgery means any procedure that is directed at improving the patient’s appearance and does not meaningfully promote the proper function of the body or prevent or treat illness or disease. Section 213(d)(9)(B).
Tax attorney would argue that A’s cancer is a disfiguring disease because the treatment results in the loss of A’s breast. Accordingly, the breast reconstruction surgery ameliorates a deformity directly related to a disease and the cost is an expense for medical care within the meaning of § 213(d) that A may deduct under § 213 (subject to the limitations of that section).
Tax Attorney would argue that cost of B’s laser eye surgery is allowed under § 213(d)(9) because the surgery is a procedure that meaningfully promotes the proper function of the body. Vision correction with eyeglasses or contact lenses qualifies as medical care. See Rev. Rul. 74-429, 1974-2 C.B. 83. Eye surgery to correct defective vision, including laser procedures such as LASIK and radial keratotomy, corrects a dysfunction of the body. Accordingly, the cost of the laser eye surgery is an expense for medical care within the meaning of § 213(d) that B may deduct under § 213 (subject to the limitations of that section).
In contrast, IRS tax attorney would argue that the teeth-whitening procedure does not treat a physical or mental disease or promote the proper function of the body, but is directed at improving C’s appearance. The discoloration is not a deformity and is not caused by a disfiguring disease or treatment. Accordingly, C may not deduct the cost of whitening teeth as an expense for medical care.