Tanning Tax To Help Pay For Health Care Reform Now In Effect

Thursday, July 1st 2010, 6:22 pm
By: News On 6

By Chris Wright, The News On 6  

TULSA, OK -- Sun-worshippers who prefer to stay tan year-round now have to pay extra for their glow.

A tanning tax went into effect Thursday at salons across the country.

The new 10% tax will help pay for health care reform. It has dermatologists smiling, and salon owners feeling burned.

On an ideal summer day, swimmers were soaking up rays the old fashioned way in Broken Arrow. As if they don't already face enough competition from the sun, employees at Totally Tan now have to deal with a new federal tax.

Visits to the tanning bed will now come with a 10% excise tax. It's expected to raise $2.7 billion over the next decade to help pay for health care reform.

"So we feel like it's very discriminatory," said Peggy Hague, Totally Tan.

Owner Peggy Hague has been in the tanning business for more than two decades. She says her industry has always been over-exposed to criticism.

"We fight the media and doctors all the time because they only like to report the negative," Hague said. "They don't want to tell how many benefits there are to tanning."

Doctors are applauding the tax. The American Academy of Dermatology says it's an important step towards protecting Americans from overexposure to ultraviolet radiation.

But the extra cost won't deter all fans of tan.

"I do not like burning, because I am fair skinned," said Trish Allison. "And I do like to keep a base tan in the summertime, so I would probably just pay the ten percent and keep tanning."

Even though the tax will be applied early and often, Totally Tan believes most of its clients will choose sun over savings.

"It is a luxury item, but it's a vanity business," Hague said. "Woman tend to get their hair done, their nails done and their tans regardless."

There is a loophole. The tax only applies to tanning procedures that use ultraviolet light. So if you get spray-tanned, you won't have to pay any extra.