Businesses burnt by new tanning tax

By Justin Sillner
August 3, 2010

Twenty-year-old Kim Carlson visits Express Tans in Wayne, Pa. at least three times a week. The junior political science major has been going all year long since starting her freshman year of college. Carlson gets 10 minutes under the bed. With her unlimited package, she visit the salon as many times as she would like.

On July 1, 2010, a 10 percent federal tax took affect encouraging people to stay away from the practice. The tax was put into effect due to the rising rate of skin cancer in young women. This is part of the federal health care package passed this year.

Kim Carlson tans for 10 minutes in the bed. Carlson won't let the tax stop her from keeping her summer glow year round. -- Justin Sillner/Feaures Editor

Carlson isn’t going to let tax stop her from getting that bronze glow.

“Tax doesn’t stop me from doing anything else and tanning is something that I enjoy so I can’t stop,” Carlson said.

Carlson’s salon has made some changes since the tax, changes that would actually benefit its customers despite the tax.

“Tanning is already expensive so I don’t mind it. If it’s going to help the government raise money that’s fine with me,” Carlson said.

Sheena Thompson, manager of Express Tans, says the tax is going to affect students the most.

“Some people come in and see the tax and ask why,” Thompson said. “Some people aren’t even aware of it.”

The tax is expected to raise $2.7 billion within 10 years to help pay for the new federal health legislation.

“We try to make as many specials as possible to cut back the tax,” Thompson said. “So far, we haven’t seen a difference. In the future, we could be most likely be effected.”

So what is Express Tans doing to fight the tax?

“Any package that we have is $5 off,” Thompson said. “It’s almost like the tax isn’t there.”

Tanning has become a favorite hobby of many young people. Last year, the popular television show on MTV, “Jersey Shore,” took the hobby to a whole new level. The cast made a living by tanning everyday at salons and carrying bronzer around with them in public. Tanning was the cool thing to do. On the first episode of the second season of the show, aired July 29, Nicole “Snooki” Polizzi tells us that she does not use tanning beds anymore because of President Obama’s tax on tanning. Polizzi jokes that Obama put the tax on tanning just because of the “Jersey Shore” cast.

John Solewin, senior political science major, also an avid tanner, does not agree with the tax at all.

“President Obama should not be raising taxes on anything during a recession. Raising taxes does not create wealth, does not create jobs and does not help our current economic situation,” Solewin said.

The tax applies to electronic products designed for tanning that use one or more ultraviolet lamps with wavelengths between 200 and 400 nanometers. Other sunless tanning options such as spray tans and tanning lotions are not included in the tax.

According to The American Academy of Dermatology, tanning before the age of 35 has been linked to a 75 percent increase in the risk of melanoma, the worst form of skin cancer. The cancer is more frequent in young females. About 30 million Americans go to the tanning bed every year, about 2.3 million of them being teenagers.

Peter Morrison, junior Spanish major, says that he supports the tax but it will not stop him from hitting the tanning bed.

“I agree with the tax because just like everything else that can be harmful to a person, tanning can be too,” Morrison said. “By taxing it, the government can lower the risks of cancer and also make more money to lower our national debt.”

“There is no way I am going tanning anymore after this,” Brittany Hume, junior math major, said. “It’s just annoying that the government is taxing yet something else.”

“If you think about cigarettes, which get taxed all the time, you can see the rate of tanning going down would be like cigarette sales going down, which I don’t see happening anytime soon” Morrison said.

“I can’t wait to see what the government taxes next. We probably won’t even be able to tan the old-fashioned way, out in the sun,” Hume said.

To repeal the tax on tanning, visit

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Justin Sillner

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