We Are Sunshine

Obama Proposal Revives ‘Tan Tax’

Tuesday, February 23rd, 2010

President Barack Obama has put 9,000 jobs in jeopardy when he went back on his campaign promise Monday, supporting a proposed tax brokered by powerful lobbyists behind closed doors.  The controversial 10 percent federal tax on indoor tanning services has been included back in the Health Care Reform proposal, presented by President Obama on Monday, causing outrage throughout the country.

2010-02-23 Obama's tan tax copy“Obama is now supporting the very issue he campaigned against: dirty politics and backroom deals. This late-night legislation was brokered by the dermatology industry with senators including Harry Reid, without any due diligence nor any input from tanning retailers,” said Joseph Levy, vice president of the International Smart Tan Network, the educational institute for North American indoor tanning businesses. “The deal traded an affordable tax on purely elective cosmetic surgery for the wealthiest Americans 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.”

“Regardless of your position on health care reform, the inclusion of the ‘Tan Tax’ has been Washington politics at its worst.”

In light of the proposed tax, over 200,000 angry voters petitioned and sent letters to their elected representatives in just four weeks in December and January about the tax, and as a result, many congressional leaders pledged to keep it out of any reform bill. According to Smart Tan, 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.

“Nobody likes the [tan] tax,” Nebraska Senator Ben Nelson (D) told KOLN-TV.  “The truth of the matter is — it’s dead. It will not survive.”

David M. Pariser, president of the American Academy of Dermatology Association (AADA), took credit for the Tan Tax in a December Wall Street Journal article, whereby the AADA, AMA and Allergan Corp., the manufacturer of Botox, lobbied Senate Democrats to shift the five percent “Botax” to the current the 10 percent “Tan Tax.”

“It is incontrovertible that UV exposure is the only true natural source of Vitamin D, and we now know there are 105 disorders related to sunlight avoidance and vitamin D deficiency,” said Dr. Marc Sorenson, an independent advocate of vitamin D whose book “Vitamin D3 and Solar Power for Optimal Health” recommends regular sunlight exposure and tanning. “By eliminating another source of vitamin D this tax will increase health care costs and lead to poorer health for the American public.”

While injectable Botox has no discerning value, an estimated 1.5 million indoor tanning clients use tanning facilities to informally treat the same skin conditions dermatologists do, 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. Ironically, dermatologists who competitively use indoor tanning equipment as “phototherapy” negotiated to be exempt from the proposed tax.

“This unjust tan tax is emblematic of where the healthcare bill is going wrong and where everyday citizens are fighting back,” said Levy.  “We are confident that the President will hear what hundreds of thousands of Americans have already told their congressional delegations: Take the ‘Tan Tax’ proposal out of Health Care reform.”

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.