New tax targets tanning lovers

HOUSTON The tanning industry is not happy about the tax. It will be on all tanning sessions beginning July 1 and tanning salon owners are still figuring out how they will handle the new tax.

A ten percent tax on tanning bed sessions will not stop some people from tanning.

"I don't think it would bother me at all," said customer Nia Guzman. "It would not change anything, I would still come here."

Tanning salon owners are a bit more concerned about the tanning tax included in the health care reform law.

Robbie Segler with Darque Tan said, "We feel terrible about this. This is a tax that is going to cost business. It is a tax that will cost jobs here in Houston and it's going to cost jobs all over the nation."

Segler owns dozens of tanning salons in Houston and more than 100 nationwide. He says the tax will have an impact on consumers.

"Taxes never help business," Segler said. "They only hurt business and in this case it is a tax that is going to hurt our customers."

Segler says his industry is being vilified and points to recent statements from members of congress.

Rep. Rosa DeLauro from Connecticut explained, "Tanning beds are the cigarettes of our time, cancer causing and poorly regulated."

Tanning salon owners say the skin cancer risks are being overstated. Now that tanning beds are being taxed, some salon owners believe government officials may have to back off of the industry.

Dalton Terry with EZ Tan said, "Now the government has a vested interest in the tanning industry because the more successful we are the revenue is generated in tax."

Tanning salon owner Dalton Terry says the industry is also changing, he points to the new tanning beds that emit uv levels customized to each person.

"It takes a UV reading of your skin and adjusts the UV output to give you a maximum tan with virtually no burn," Terry explained. "So at the same time we have a tax, we also have new technology that hopefully will offset that."

The government's joint committee on taxation estimated the tan tax would raise more than $2 billion over a 10 year period. Local salon owners think those figures are wrong. The average customer spends about $75 a year on sessions, according to the Indoor Tanning Association. The tax would cost the average tanner another $7.50 a year.

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