In another one of my blogs, I outlined the reasons why you should quit tanning once and for all. I mainly focused on the health risks associated with tanning, including skin cancer and premature aging. One important new tax to know about is the tan tax, a tax on indoor tanning services that began on July 1 2010.
To fund the 2010 Affordable Care act, the federal government will now levy a 10 percent tax on indoor tanning, which started on July 1st. Spray tans and other sunless tanning products will not be taxed under the new legislation. The tanning tax is expected to generate 2.7 billion dollars towards health care reform. Dermatologists and other advocates hope that the tanning tax will dissuade people from baking their skin in indoor tanning beds.
Why tax tanning?
To begin with, countless dermatological studies have shown that tanning has a negative impact on the body. Exposure to UV rays damages the skin’s DNA, leaving people more than three times more likely to develop skin cancers like melanoma. Although many skin cancers can be treatable, melanoma is the most deadly skin cancer—as well as the most common type of skin cancer found in young people. Indoor tanning beds can also contribute to premature aging of the skin, causing younger people to develop wrinkly or leathery looking skin. A young survivor of skin cancer who tanned in his youth even wants to ban tanning for minors because of health risks.
Initially, cosmetic surgery procedures were the victims of the tax—known as the “Botax” for the popular Botox procedure, until dermatologists successfully lobbied Congress to hit indoor tanning beds instead.
Still, tanning businesses fear that the new tax will put a damper on their fun in the sun. Before the 10% tax went into effect, many small businesses expressed their concern over the tax’s impact on business. Although tanning packages purchased at tanning salons will be exposed to the tax, health clubs that also feature tanning beds are exempt from the new legislation. One famous tanning salon patron, the Jersey Shore’s majestically orange Snooki, claimed that she would stop using tanning beds for good because of the tax, and use spray tan services instead. Other tanners said that the tax wouldn’t affect their tanning habits.
Other businesses claim that they have already noticed a drop off in sales. According to an article in the Washington Post, one tanning salon in Arlington, Virginia noticed a 20 to 30 percent drop off in business since the recession, and anticipated worse since the tanning tax went into effect July. Then again, it is July, the height of beach season, when indoor fake n’ bake tanning really isn’t necessary, which could factor into that sales decline.
While time will tell how hard the tax will hit the tanning industry, I feel tanning salons should not be the only establishments subject to the tax. By exempting fitness centers from taxation, the government is really squeezing the tanning industry. Still, the tax may serve as an additional incentive—including health—for people to stop tanning once and for all.