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Federal Tax on Tanning Salons Goes Into Effect

Tanning Bed

The nationwide 10 percent tax on tanning salons began today (Thursday) to help pay for President Obama’s health care overhaul package passed by Congress earlier this year. KSMU’s Ryan Welch has the local take on the tax.

Tinslee Porr, who works for Hawaiian Sun Tanning Company in Springfield, is upset about the tax because the company will have to raise its prices. However, she also says the company’s customers will understand.

“We definitely have an amazing client base. They’re all pretty loyal to us. And they’re not upset; they understand the situation. We have been educating them on the situation and what they can do to help it. So, our client base is actually going out there and talking to their representatives, contacting people, and letting them know that they’re upset and they’re just as upset as we are,” Porr says.

Lori Massengale, owner of the West Plains tanning salon Pacific Beach, said she thinks the tax is unfair. She says that as long as tanning is legal, it should have similar taxes to everything else. She also says she knows too much tanning is not good for anyone, but says that also applies to other things in life, too.

“Anything in excess is bad for you. It could be water, it could be a cheeseburger, you know. So, if somebody’s going to abuse something, they’re going to pay the price, no matter what it is,” Massengale says.

For the politics behind the tanning tax, we talked to Dr. Mark Rushefsky, political science professor at Missouri State University. He said the tax initially began as a tax for Botox. However, he said pharmaceutical companies that have much more money and influence than tanning salons fought that idea, so it was just easier to tax tanning salons rather than Botox.

Rushefsky also says that the 10 percent tax is probably not enough to keep tanning customers away from their UV rays.

“It’s not that big a difference. But even if it was, what would happen is, say it discourages people from using tanning salons, then that would reduce the revenue that you get from your tax.”

The Indoor Tanning Association says on its website it will try to repeal the tax.

For KSMU News, I’m Ryan Welch.

Lori Massengale, Owner of Pacific Beach Tanning and Fitness Center, provides tanning to the local citizens of West Plains, Missouri. (Photo provided by: Lori Massengale) This is a level 1 tanning bed. (Photo provided by: Lori Massengale) This is a level 2 tanning bed located at Pacific Beach Tanning and Fitness. (Photo provided by: Lori Massengale) This is one of two level 3 tanning beds provided by Pacific Beach Tanning. (Photo provided by: Lori Massengale)