"Tan Tax" will hurt middle-class women and women-owned businesses

Published on December 24, 2009 at 4:37 AM · 4 Comments

The proposed 10 percent federal tax on indoor tanning services, added to the latest U.S. Senate health care reform bill in a back-room deal over the weekend, will fall 40-50 percent short of delivering the revenue its proponents promised, according to the International Smart Tan Network (Smart Tan). The tax unfairly targets female consumers, who make up more than two-thirds of tanning clients, and would be detrimental to the thousands of women who own the majority of America's indoor tanning salons.

The "Tan Tax" was added to the Senate bill late Saturday evening after heavy lobbying of Senate Democrats by the American Academy of Dermatology Association (AADA), the American Medical Association and California-based Allergan Corp., the manufacturer of Botox. The trio succeeded in shifting a 5 percent tax on elective cosmetic surgery procedures, which offer no known health benefits, onto the tanning industry.

"This back-room deal was brokered by the dermatology industry with senators without any due diligence nor any input from tanning retailers," said International Smart Tan Network Vice President Joseph Levy. "The deal traded an affordable tax on purely elective cosmetic surgery for wealthy Americans and wealthy doctors for an onerous tax that will hurt middle-class women, will force women-owned businesses to close and will cost the country thousands of jobs."

The 5 percent cosmetic surgery "Botax" would have raised $5 billion over 10 years to help fund health care reform. Smart Tan believes the 10 percent "Tan Tax" would generate less than $170 million in its first year -- 40-50 percent less than dermatology lobbyists estimated and 70 percent less than the "Botax" would have generated over 10 years.

The AADA took credit for getting Congress to swap the "Botax" for the "Tan Tax" in a Wall Street Journal article on Tuesday. Ironically, dermatologists who competitively use indoor tanning equipment to treat psoriasis, eczema and acne in their offices -- a procedure called "phototherapy" -- will be exempt from the proposed "Tan Tax."

According to Smart Tan:

-- Women own 67 percent of indoor tanning businesses and are the most frequent tanning clients. -- The 10 percent "Tan Tax" could lead to more than 1,000 tanning business closures resulting in more than 9,000 lost jobs in 2010. -- The 10 percent tax on the nation's professional tanning facilities would generate less than $170 million in its first year and even less in subsequent years due to business closures -- an estimated 40-50 percent less than what bill sponsors projected to collect in taxes over 10 years. -- Dermatologists use the same tanning equipment in their offices to treat purely cosmetic skin conditions such as psoriasis, acne and eczema -- a procedure called "phototherapy" that costs up to $100 a visit -- billed to health insurance companies. -- An estimated 1.5 million indoor tanning clients use tanning facilities to informally treat the same skin conditions while developing cosmetic tans for a few dollars per visit. According to Smart Tan Up to 70 percent of these clients are referred to tanning facilities by doctors.

"Dermatology lobbying for the 'Tan Tax' is like Coke being allowed to lobby the government to tax Pepsi while insisting that Coke be allowed to sell the same product and not be taxed for it. It's unbelievable," said Levy.

According to the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery there are more than 10 million cosmetic procedures performed annually in the United States. Botox injections are the single fastest growing procedure in dermatology and would offer an expanding tax base for revenue.

Smart Tan is urging salon owners and their customers to petition their congressional representatives to remove this egregious tax before the final health care bill becomes law.

Click on this link to send a note to your Congressperson now:

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  1. Melissa Melissa United States says:

    What a lot of people don't realize is that indoor tanning is medically beneficial to people and not just cosmetic. Yes, some people use it in vain, but even those people are receiving medical benefits. (Even if they don't know it.) I personally have noticed a huge difference in my medical health since I have started tanning. I suffer from low vitamin D levels as well as clinical depression. Since I have been tanning, my depression has significantly decreased. Apparently tanning can increase the seratonin production in your brain. For those of you who don't know, seratonin is the hormone released in your brain that is mostly responsible for naturally taming depression. With all of the sun scare tactics that dermatologists and doctors are filling our heads with, it just makes sense that depression diagnosis' are rapidly rising. The only way to "naturally" increase the amount of seratonin production is through UV exposure. These are not the only medical benefits of indoor tanning, they are just the ones that I have experienced. So it isn't JUST cosmetic.

  2. tanner tanner United States says:

    I bought my own taning bed. Dermatologists shouldn't be against taning beds. If people have no skin cancer it's less money for the dermatologists. It's great for eczema. Ask any dermatologist.

  3. hayden hayden United States says:

    Why not tax the fast food drive thrus, cigarettes, cokes, candy, chips, beer...all the things that people have become so dependent on that are ruining their health more than a few minutes in a tanning bed?

  4. Leighton Leighton United States says:

    Speaking generally, a person is better off tanning 10 minutes every other day than if he doesn't.  Beyond Vitamin D, a light tan is the best protection against the sun's harmful rays.  Indoor tanning regulates its customers.  Its much better than sending people to the poolside, where they tan WAY TOO MUCH.

The opinions expressed here are the views of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of News-Medical.Net.
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