U.S. tanning tax enacted Thursday
With Thursday’s implementation of a 10 percent tax on all ultraviolet tanning, getting that summer glow indoors is going to cost more for MSU students.
The federal tax, which was passed in March as part of the nation’s health care overhaul, is expected to generate $200 million in its first year and $2.7 billion during the next 10 years, according to the nonpartisan U.S. Joint Committee on Taxation.
To overcome delays in Congress over a proposed 5 percent tax on elective cosmetic surgery, the tanning tax was introduced as an alternative by U.S. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev.
Tanning was a logical choice for a tax because tanning tends to increase costs on the health care system, said Regan Lachapelle, Reid’s spokeswoman, in an e-mail.
“The health risks of tanning beds are well known,” Lachapelle said. “In addition to being harmful to users, they also increase health costs for Americans.”
But the tax is unfair to businesses and consumers, said Jaymes Conklin, the owner and manager of Simply Tanning, 3340 E. Lake Lansing Road.
“The polls in (the International Smart Tan Network) say that 40 percent of the tanning salons that are out there feel that they’re going to absorb the cost,” Conklin said. “I’ve got no choice but to pass it on to the customers. … The general comments that I get are basically that ‘Great, that’s what we need in a down economy.’ There’s not much you can do about it, as far as that goes.”
An average tanning package costs $50 at Simply Tanning, Conklin said, meaning that the price will increase to $55 for the same package with the tax.
Although, the health risks are significant enough to justify the tax, said Tiffany Walker, who will begin studying as a law graduate student in the fall. Walker said she only tans a few times a year and does not plan to tan less because of the tax.
“I think it makes sense, because I think there’s a lot of research (about tanning health side effects),” Walker said.
Health concerns are an individual’s choice, and the tax should not punish people who want to tan, political science senior Aaron Clark said.
“People should be able to do what they want with their bodies and not have to pay,” Clark said.
A few customers who are aware of the impending tax purchased packages Wednesday to avoid paying the extra money, Conklin said.
“I have noticed a little bit of an uptick in sales (Wednesday),” Conklin said. “Basically, all the people that know that their packages are coming up to expire soon might as well get it now before the tax.”