Saturday, April 16, 2016
USA - Tax Refunds Used For Savings, Debt Service & Plastic Surgery
Last year, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) issued 109,426,000 tax refunds totaling $306.016 billion. That works out to an average refund of $2,797 per taxpayer.
Those numbers aren’t too far off of what’s expected for 2016. As of April 8, with about 70% of all returns processed, the IRS has issued 81,751,000 tax refunds totaling $228.780 billion. That works out to an average refund of $2,798 per taxpayer.
So what are taxpayers doing with all of that cash?
According to the National Retail Federation’s annual Tax Returns Survey, nearly half (49.2%) of taxpayers expecting a tax refund plan to sock it away rather than spend it immediately: that’s the highest percentage in the survey’s history.
Those who aren’t saving are opting to use the funds to chip away at debt, while others plan to put their tax refunds into everyday expenses like groceries and gas.
That doesn’t mean that taxpayers are eschewing all fun. Taxpayers are planning some splurges though those numbers are significantly smaller. At the top of the splurge list? Taking a vacation followed by making a major purchase for the home.
Also on the list? Plastic surgery. More Americans than ever before will be using their tax returns to pay for plastic surgery this year, according to a new survey conducted by RealSelf.com. Of those surveyed, 13% of people who have undergone a plastic surgery procedure used money from their tax refund to pay for all or part of their plastic surgery or other cosmetic procedure – and a third of those respondents actually scheduled their procedure to coincide with the receipt of their refund. And, of those respondents expecting a tax refund this year, nearly 20% intend to use the money to help pay for a procedure.
If those numbers feel high to you, you’re not alone. To be honest, my experience with plastic surgery has largely been limited to a few Joan Rivers jokes and a girl that I knew in grad school who got liposuction for graduation. So I decided to ask an expert. Dr. Jeffrey Epstein is a triple board certified facial plastic surgeon with offices in Miami and New York who specializes in primary and revision rhinoplasty and aesthetic surgery. He’s also a RealSelf Contributor.
With refunds averaging just under $3,000, I was curious to find out from Dr. Epstein what that buys you when it comes to plastic surgery. Not surprisingly, Dr. Epstein says that won’t cover a major procedure in most well-established practices like his. It can cover basics and extras like Botox and fillers but when it comes to significant procedures, what it can get you, he says, is a down payment. Often patients will pay for procedures over time – there are even companies devoted to helping finance plastic surgeries. That’s where $3,000 can make a difference: it can represent as much as 20% towards a major procedure.
How much do procedures cost? A rhinoplasty procedure can cost between $10,000 and $15,000. Rhinoplasty is one of the most popular procedures today. The demographic for the procedure tends to be young (late teens to those in their late 20s).
Also popular? Hair transplants or men. Your $3,000 won’t pay for that either: the cost runs about the same as rhinoplasty: between $9,000 and $14,000 and most insurance plans don’t cover it.
Two other surgeries, breast augmentation and liposuction, round out the top of the list of the most popular procedures. These procedures, which are generally geared towards younger patients, are more sensitive to cost.
If cost is a factor, why would a taxpayer spend money on plastic surgery? Because, Dr. Epstein jokes, it costs less than a car. He explains that a tax refund is often money that you weren’t counting on, making the desire to do something “just for you” when the extra cash arrives more likely. That, says Dr. Epstein, makes it an opportunity to take care of yourself and “justify the worth” all at the same time.
So does that mean you should rush right out, tax refund check in hand, and jump into a new surgery? Not so fast. In addition to cost, time is important, notes Dr. Epstein, because in addition to the cost of the procedure, you must be in a position to take a number of days off for recovery (anywhere from 8-10, depending on the procedure).
And what about all of those stereotypes about plastic surgery? I asked Dr. Epstein to clarify some of the popular misconceptions. He quickly rattled off four:
Plastic surgery is only for the really wealthy. It’s clear that it’s not cheap but that doesn’t mean it’s cost prohibitive.
You can tell who has had a procedure. Dr. Epstein says that with a technically and artistically skilled surgeon, you can’t tell.
It’s a panacea for making life better. An operation can’t do that.
You can do it for someone else. You can’t. A procedure won’t solve your problems or, Dr. Epstein says, save your marriage.
Kelly Phillips Erb