Home » Featured, Headline, Our Columns

Daylight Robbery and the Tanning Tax

John Powers 5 July 2010 2 Comments
A jaw dropping 650,000 people left the job market in the US in May. That is equivalent to the entire population of Milwaukee just sitting down for a month, not working and not looking for work either. Thankfully, Washington has a plan to get us back to prosperity, that shows what we get when we turn over our liberty to our smartest president ever: A new tax on Tanning Beds.
Brilliant! Only those vain people of pallor will get stuck footing the bill, but the entire nation will benefit from the ultra violet tariff, because the Fed’s spend our money wisely on job creation, affordable healthcare, and various vote buying schemes to replace the missing Milwaukee economy.
I am currently reading Bill Bryson’s “At Home“, which has a very good section on the Window and Glass Tax (Daylight Robbery, per the wit) which was concocted to punish the vanity of window usage, but in the meantime choked the glass industry for 100 years or so. Unintended consequences set in, servants rooms became bricked over, and the tax was unpopular among rich and poor alike. The tax lasted till 1851, a year that coincided with the introduction of massive greenhouses providing year round fresh vegetables, and the Crystal Palace with its 293,655 panels of tax free glass dazzling visitors to London’s Great Exhibition of 1851.
The IRS has a helpful set of tips to get the Tanning Salon industries to fund our madness, with such scorching prose as “The tax does not apply to phototherapy services performed by a licensed medical professional on his or her premises”, which must come as a great relief for eczema sufferers everywhere. I can see the massive eczema lobby mobilizing it resources to beg Dick Durbin and Roland Burris to spare them Washington’s general punishment of it’s citizenry, complete with heart wrenching photos of seniors with blotchy skin and itchy infants.
Perhaps a prayer would be appropriate
O’ DemiLords Durbin and Burris, beseech us with your wisdom of phototherapy and discernment of the shame which our eczema has brought. Make us worthy of your mercy and deliver our tanning beds from clutches of the vain to save us from the unsightly blotch.
That should do it.
The Indoor Tanning Association has it by the numbers, and is not exactly buying the idea of sacrificing their members business to make DC’s case for them.
2.7 billion: The amount of money the IRS plans to collect from small businesses over the next 10 years from this tax.
10: Percent of the American public who visit an indoor tanning facility each year.
~19,000: Number of “mom and pop” small businesses who may be affected by the new tax.
75: Percent of indoor tanning businesses’ employees and customers who are women.
26: The number of lines in the 906-page healthcare law devoted to the “suntan” tax.
12: Number of pages it takes the IRS to explain the rules to comply with the complicated “suntan tax.”
4: Number of times the suntan tax is reported and paid each year.
36: Number of hours estimated by the IRS to complete and file Form 720, prior to the IRS revising and adding the new suntan tax to it.
>$74: Average cost, per hour, spent by small businesses to comply with federal tax paperwork burdens.
>4 million: Quantity of postcards mailed to small businesses alerting them to the availability of a small business tax credit.
0: Number of postcards sent to alert tanning businesses of the new tax on their business.
2: Number of weeks in advance small businesses received the regulations for  complying with the new suntan tax.

I was speculating on tax avoidance schemes (a trip outside? some self-tanner? a special free-tanning-tax zone in East Moline? a newfound respect for my Irish pallor?), but the news got ahead of me. Qualified fitness centers, that offer tanning services, are exempted from the 10% tax, setting up a rush of new “fitness centers” to replace the simple tanning salons. A spokesman for the esteemed Indoor Tanning Association predicts the tax will not succeed. With such a well-thought out plan as Congress and the Obama administration have delivered, what could possibly go wrong?


John Powers is the President of the Chicago Daily Observer and a known SPF-50 sunscreen user.

image Crystal Palace at the Great Exhibition of 1851


  • Gary Owen said:

    Thanks for the poke. It put a smile on my face, during these grimm times.

  • Rufino said:

    Is anyone else bothered that this tax disproportionately targets one racial group?

Leave your response!

Add your comment below, or trackback from your own site. You can also subscribe to these comments via RSS.

Be nice. Keep it clean. Stay on topic. No spam.

You can use these tags:
<a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>

This is a Gravatar-enabled weblog. To get your own globally-recognized-avatar, please register at Gravatar.