We Are Sunshine

A 10 percent tax on indoor tanning services emerges as a Senate solution to help finance health care reform

Tuesday, December 22nd, 2009

DEC. 21, 2010 — U.S. health care reform would include a 10 percent federal excise tax on indoor tanning services under the latest Senate compromise reached this weekend — a proposal expected to be voted on this week.

2009-12-21 tan tax in play-tanningnews copyThe Senate bill — if approved this week as is expected — would still be subject to compromise with health care reform’s House version, a bill approved last month which does not include the tanning tax.

The tan tax, which had been suggested in prior weeks, and which the Indoor Tanning Association has opposed, was brought into play when lobbyists for the medical community lobbied to have a potential tax on cosmetic surgery procedures — called “The Bo-tax” — removed from the bill.

“Goodbye Botax. Hello tanning tax,” Janet Adamy, a reporter for The Wall Street Journal, wrote in her blog this weekend on the Journal’s web site. “Amid pressure from doctors, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid decided to remove a proposed 5% tax on elective cosmetic surgery in the health bill that was expected to raise $5 billion over a decade. In place of what was known as the Botax, he added a 10% tax on indoor tanning services.”

Adamy continued, “The change is a victory for the American Medical Association, which urged lawmakers to remove the cosmetic-surgery tax after Sen. Reid included it in a draft of the bill he unveiled in November. The medical industry argued that the tax effectively discriminated against women, since they’re more likely to undergo such procedures.”

Ironically, the medical industry has argued that indoor tanning is mostly female, but didn’t object to transferring a tax from mostly wealthy doctors and their mostly wealthy elective surgery female patients to indoor tanning businesses and their clients.