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Thu July 1, 2010
Federal "Tanning Tax" Kicks In
By BJ Austin, KERA News
Dallas, TX – Starting today, it costs more to visit a tanning salon. The federal healthcare bill includes a 10 percent tax on U-V tanning. KERA's BJ Austin says the new tax puts salon owners on one side; doctors on the other; and customers in the middle.
At a Tan Me salon in Dallas, news of a 10% federal tax on tanning came as a surprise to one customer. Salon manager Dan O'Loughlan says he hasn't been "advertising" the new tax to customers. A few have asked about it. He sums up his feelings in one word.
O'Loughlan: Awful. Wish it wasn't, but that's the way it's going to be. We're going to pass on the amount to the customer and hope for the best.
O'Loughlan says his tanning salon has one thing going for it. It's across the street from SMU and in the upscale Park Cities. He says his clientele may be able to absorb an extra 10% easier than some. One Oak Lawn tanning salon owner, says he'll probably keep his "regulars". But he says some smaller, Mom and Pop operations could be in trouble.
At UT Southwestern Medical Center, Dr. Clay Cockerell says U-V tanning is a serious cancer risk, and he likes the new tax.
Cockerell: Just like cigarettes are taxed, and alcohol is taxed, you know sin taxes are there for people who want to engage in those kinds of things. It was the idea of the American Academy of Dermatology to propose a tax on this because it is also something that's going to ultimately be a burden to the healthcare system.
In Uptown Dallas, which is dotted with tanning salons, reaction is mixed.
Uptowners: I think it's fair. Healthcare is outrageously expensive, and with melanoma, it cuts down on our cost. So, I'm for it. It's an easy way to get money, but as far as curbing unhealthy habits, it really doesn't help. I think it's ridiculous. I think the government, pretty soon they're gonna tax us on air. You breathe it, so that's going to be an extra 20%.
The tax is expected to generate nearly three billion dollars over ten years to help fund the healthcare overhaul. But, Dan O'Loughlan says a new trend in the industry may deflate the tanning tax revenue.
O'Loughlan: We're moving into more of a spray tans and such; moving out of U-V and into U-V free.
Spray tans are NOT included in the 10% tanning tax.