The Vanity Tax

The trouble with the government's new tax on indoor tanning services


Last December, on Christmas Eve, any Republicans in the Senate who had actually read the latest version of the healthcare reform bill they were voting on must have thanked the Democrats for one last-minute gift: A 10 percent tax on indoor tanning services. Any GOP elf charged with manufacturing ill will toward liberal overreach, President Obama, and the specter of government tanning panels would have been hard-pressed to come up with a better ploy than this half-baked sin tax. Impotent and paternalistic at the same time, it shines approximately 48 super-efficient reflector tubes of 100-watt artificial sunlight on the way the government's increasing control over healthcare inevitably erodes individual freedom. On July 1st it goes into effect.

The tanning tax is the brainchild of the American Academy of Dermatology Association (AADA). The AADA pitched it to the Senate as an alternative to a tax on cosmetic procedures that a U.S. Treasury Department official had reportedly proposed to help cover the costs of healthcare reform. This proposed 5 percent Botax, as it came to be called, was itself a terrible idea, essentially turning wrinkle removal and breast enhancement into finable infractions and making individuals willing to bear the full cost of their vanity subsidize someone else's love for donuts, bourbon, and skydiving. Dermatologists, boob sculptors, and their powerful lobbying forces rightly objected to the proposal and got it liposucted from the bill.

At the same time, the AADA argued on behalf of a tax that would penalize people who enjoy baking themselves to a glamorous orange crisp in coffin-like radiation chambers. The AADA has been warning about the dangers of tanning beds since the 1980s, and it saw the government's need for revenue as an opportunity to put more teeth into its advocacy efforts. "A tax on indoor tanning services would serve as a signal from the federal government to everyone, especially young people, that indoor tanning is dangerous and should be avoided," said AADA president David Pariser in a December press release. "In addition to generating revenue to help offset the cost of health system reform, a federal tax on indoor tanning helps reduce health costs by discouraging indoor tanning and thereby reducing the future costs of treating skin cancers."

Joseph Levy, vice president of the International Smart Tan Network, a tanning industry trade association, predicted to that the tax may lead to the closure of 1000 salons and the loss of 9000 jobs. John Overstreet, executive director of the Indoor Tanning Association, is also anticipating dark days ahead for the industry as a result of the tax. On, a message-board where tanning salon owners exchange information about their businesses, the mood is sunnier. "We maybe had 2 people out of a few thousand say they would leave because of the tax," said one. "I have posted a sign that states the 10% tax, blah, blah, blah. We have been getting with each [electronic funds transfer] client and telling them about the increase. No issues to speak of," said another.

Apparently the deterrent value of a 10 percent tax on a service that sells for as little as $5 is negligible. But if the tax is too incidental to alter consumer behavior, it will still penalize tanning salon customers in a pretty arbitrary way. While anti-tanning advocates point to studies that link tanning salon patronage to higher incidence of melanoma, there are plenty of other ways to get skin cancer too, most of which simply involve staying out in the sun too long without adequate protection. In the case of melanoma, incidence rates started rising in the U.S. long before the indoor tanning industry established itself here in the early 1980s.

According to a 2004 survey conducted by Wolff System Technology, a manufacturer of tanning beds, more than 70 percent of tanning salon customers are women. According to American Cancer Society estimates, 55 percent of the individuals who contracted melanoma in 2008 and 64 percent of those who died from it that year were men. In addition, the American Melanoma Foundation's 2009 fact sheet reports that incidence of melanoma is increasing more rapidly in men over 65 (a demographic not particularly associated with tanning salons) than in young white women (tanning salons' primary clientele).

So why not also levy a tanning tax against old bald guys who play a lot of golf but refuse to wear hats? The Senate targeted the tanning salon industry simply because it was expedient to do so. It had revenue that could be easily taxed, and unlike the wealthier, better-organized cosmetic surgery industry, it lacked the power to effectively block such legislation.

According to the Joint Commission on Taxation, the tanning tax is expected to generation $2.7 billion over the next decade, or $270 million a year. Meanwhile, a 2004 study the AADA commissioned found that the cost of treating melanoma that year was $291 million. Thus, the revenues collected from tanning salon customers over the next 10 years could theoretically supply approximately 90 percent of the money we use to treat melanoma during that time.

But how many indoor tanners will actually contract the disease in any given year? According to America Cancer Society estimates, 68,720 people were diagnosed with melanoma in 2009. Meanwhile, a 2010 study conducted by researchers at the University of Minnesota found that of the 1167 people with melanoma it surveyed, 62.9 percent had used an indoor tanning device at least once in their lives. Apply these percentages to the American Cancer Society numbers, and it suggests that of the 68,720 people who developed melanoma in 2009, 43,224 of them had used an indoor tanning device at least once in their lives.

Exposure to UV radiation doesn't instantly lead to melanoma; the lag time is generally thought to last between 10 and 30 years. Thus, the majority of people who got it in 2009 were probably exposed to it in the late 1980s. According to a 1988 article in the Omaha World-Herald, there were approximately 18,000 tanning salons and 25 million annual customers at that time. (Today, the International Tanning Association estimates that there are 25,000 salons and 30 million customers.) What these numbers suggest is that, in any given year, the odds that an indoor tanner will contract melanoma are approximately 43,224 out of 25 million, or 1 in 578. For many potential customers, this is probably a grim enough ratio to convince themselves that, yes, indeed, spray-on tans look totally realistic! Expressed another way, however, what it suggests is that, in any given year, 99.998 percent of the people who patronize indoor tanning salons will not get melanoma.

xxxNonetheless, 100 percent now have to pay a tax because of their patronage. Welcome to the new age of healthcare. In the old system, insurers exercised biases against people with pre-existing conditions. In the new one, the biases are being transferred to people with pre-existing behaviors–especially when those behaviors are easily taxable.

The government doesn't have a lock on this approach. On the same day that the tanning tax goes into effect, Newton Medical Center, a non-profit hospital in Kansas, will start charging its employees who smoke cigarettes a $70-per-month "tobacco-user surcharge" on their health insurance premiums.

But the government has the ability to exercise its power more broadly than any other institution. If you're a Newton employee and you don't like this new surcharge, you can quit your job and look for another one. If you're an indoor tanner and you can't afford to buy your own private tanning bed, you're out of luck. Every time you go to a salon from now on, you have to pay a tax. The big question, of course, is how far the government might extend such measures. While the tanning tax isn't likely to alter consumer behavior much in its current form, it does serve as a kind of intellectual base tan, helping to acclimate us to the idea that the government's right to coercively modify our lifestyles is expanding as it takes a larger role in healthcare. Obviously, there are many activities that aren't 100 percent safe, and are thus now as legitimately taxable as indoor tanning is. Indeed, best to enjoy your tax-free alien hunting while you can: At the same time the Senate was entertaining a cosmetic surgery tax, it was, according to a Fox News producer, contemplating a tax on video games to discourage sedentary behavior.

Contributing Editor Greg Beato is a writer living in San Francisco. Read his Reason archive here.

NEXT: Saville Commission Corrects Part of the Record

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    1. Brian, seek help. Professional help. I’m sensing some serious mental problems. Perhaps related to your childhood. But I will not enable you by clicking your link.

      1. I’m already a veteran of professional help. It doesn’t do anything for me. Besides, madness is usually a political issue, not a medical issue. I’m taking my madness to the streets.

        1. Maybe you should try unprofessional help, like a hooker or PCP.

        2. Face it, you come here for the abuse. You like abuse. Back to the rapist with you. Sorry, therapist.

      2. To women,there won’t be enough shoes for them.the aim to buy shoes is from wearing to collecting.There is one kind of shoe in this world that whatever the design of it changed it’s always one of women’s shopping eagerness.The forever red sole is this designer’s symbol and his name is christian louboutin.His design once brought several love segments for his clients.A customer once said to him,”Thank you very much!Because of that red tread,I met my present husband and he fell in love with me at first sight for I wear the shoes designed by you!”

    2. I would tell you to go cut yourself, but what’s the point.

  1. xxxNonetheless

    Is that gangbangs? I know xxxMoreover is bukakke.


    All goods and services should be taxed the same rate.

    1. Hmmm….

      I’m okay with a gasoline tax, provided all the revenue is directed (in a reasonably efficient manner) to road construction and maintenance.

      Drivers tend to use roads in nearly direct proportion to their fuel consumption, so it’s almost equivalent to a user fee, but far easier to collect.

      1. But… but… teh externalities!!!

      2. Since when do the feds maintain our roads? Oh that’s right, they don’t. They take our money so they can skim some off the top before the distribute it back to the states so the states can maintain the roads.

    2. Why, is excise taxes worse than other taxes? Certainly a tax on tanning is no worse than a tax on labour, which would be the alternative method of taxation. After all tanning has some negative effects, whereas labour has positive effects.

  3. “The tanning tax is the brainchild of the American Academy of Dermatology Association (AADA).”

    People, the next time some jaggamunch cashier at foot locker asks you if you want to donate a dollar for cancer related causes, the answer is NO. Your dollar will go and fund shit like this.

    1. +1 for “jaggamunch”. That’s a new one – I’m stealing it!

      1. Careful, I don’t know what it means but it sounds racist.

        1. All these taxes are making me niggardly with my cash.

            1. I was actually thinking about the University of Wisconsin incident. Heh, I had no idea that there were several controversies surrounding the word!

  4. Joseph Levy, vice president of the International Smart Tan Network, a tanning industry trade association, predicted to that the tax may lead to the closure of 1000 salons and the loss of 9000 jobs

    That’s an odd argument. Wouldn’t the customers of these salons just spend pretty much the same amount at a different salon or on something else, thereby creating roughly the same number of jobs?

    How odd that libertarians seem to be able to understand how moving money from A to B doesn’t really affect the net number of jobs much when it suits your argument, but you seem to ignore it when it runs against what you are trying to convey.

    1. You’re assuming that Joseph Levy is a libertarian.

      And that taxing something doesn’t lead to a net loss in utility for the populace, even if the money is spent elsewhere. There is both the deadweight loss of the taxes going to government and likely being squandered, and the loss of utility as people respond to the tax by spending their money on something they value less.

      Reducio ad absurdum — If all food was taxed at a 10,000% rate, would you argue that no harm was caused by that tax?

      1. You assume people “value” tanning properly, which is unlikely. More studies than one can count have shown that people are terrible about dealing with low probability risks, as well as costs that lie in the distant future. It is virtually certain that the vast majority of consumers significantly over-value the tanning experience.

        1. There’s no such thing as over-valuing an experience or a product or a meal or anything. Why do we keep having to say this?

        2. Look, I think tanning beds are a waste of money, but neither you nor I get to tell people that they’re valuing things improperly. If these people think the tanning bed experience is worth $10 per session and an increased risk of skin cancer, then they do, end of story, value is subjective.

          1. Everything is subjective.

            Does that mean we should just stick our heads in the sand and ignore the world?

            1. If you would stick your head in the sand (or better yet wet concrete) and ignore the world, it would be a good thing.

            2. I think liberals should have “Everything is subjective” tattooed on their foreheads. It would save lots of time when you’re trying to figure out if the person you’re dealing with is an idiot.

        3. You assume people “value” tanning properly


        4. “More studies than one can count have shown that people are terrible about dealing with low probability risks, as well as costs that lie in the distant future.” Those are shit for brains liberals.

    2. Presumably not. The tax is either directly on consumers or will be passed through to them. The loss of 1000 salons is presumably based on customers cutting back on their tanning altogether as a result of the tax. Which presumably is the real goal for the health puritans.

      1. I mean, presumably.

        1. Cutting back on tanning and doing what? Burying the money they saved in the dirt?

          Of course not. They will spend it on something else, and create just as many jobs as the salon industry lost.

          1. No, Choad, the correct response is “Fuck your jobs!”

            1. Chad just likes the idea of higher taxes. It makes him happy. So does Jell-O and reruns of Judge Wapner.

          2. This isn’t just moving money from A to B. As noted above, taxation creates what is called a “dead weight loss.” That is, wealth is actually destroyed.

    3. All you guys are wrong

      who the hell is going to not tan because of a 10% tax? If you’re enough of a vapid, rich fool to spend money on something like that, you’ll probably spend the extra 10%.

      1. It’s a pointless tax, Edwin, just a money grab idea posited by idiots who hate rich people.

        Which is why you’re defending it.

        1. Why would you say that? Did even one thing I said imply that I’m defending it? And if I am, so what? Maybe I think it is a more libertarian tax than say, the income tax. Carl Pham down below makes a pretty good argument.

          So why would you say that? Do you think that maybe, stuff like what you just said, is the reason guys like Tony say libertarians are full of shit? When you lambast me for stating a fact and then read into it on top of that, maybe he’s right to a certain extent.

          1. Edwin, when one uses phrases like “If you’re enough of a vapid, rich fool to spend money on something like that”, it comes across as wealth-envyish. What other conclusion CAN be drawn?

            How about we stop finding NEW ways to pinch the taxpayers, and cut spending?

            And how about we ignore the fuck out of Tony, who equates libertarianism with fascism? What kind of fuckwad moron draws THAT comparison?

          2. Real libertarians don’t support new taxes, Edwin… especially useless, vapid ideas like taxing tanning parlors.

  5. What these numbers suggest is that, in any given year, the odds that an indoor tanner will contract melanoma are approximately 43,224 out of 25 million, or 1 in 578. For many potential customers, this is probably a grim enough ratio to convince themselves that, yes, indeed, spray-on tans look totally realistic!

    These numbers are completely meaningless. First, the people who go to tanning salons are not a representative cross-section of the populace. If tanning salons were not available, they would likely get tans by lying in the sun instead.

    Second, what is the ratio of people who DON’T use tanning salons and get melanoma? 1 in 578? Higher? Lower? What is the net additional risk that patrons incur as a result of using these beds — 1 in 10,000?

    Third, all melanomas are not alike. Some have really good survival odds. Some, like the kind I was diagnosed with, have a survival rate of less than 50% over 5 years.

    So, what are the odds of actually dying from a melanoma due to using a tanning salon, compared to the risk for non-patrons? These numbers in the article don’t give any clue.

  6. My 92 year-old grandmother uses the tanning salon for treatment of their psoriasis. Works pretty damn well, too. She had it bad, and tried all of the doctor prescribed, and OTC bullshit. So, fuck all of those AADA assholes. They, sure-as-shit, didn’t fucking help her. Fucking jerk-offs.

    1. their = her

      Don’t type angry!

    2. In the past, I too have used a tanning bed to treat my psoriasis @ $7.00 a session. Currently, I get narrow band light therapy from a dermatologist @ about $115.00 as session. Fortunately for me, my health plan pays 100% of the cost. My dermatologist is wary of using it very often because of the – guess what – increased risk of skin cancer associated with the treatment. Hmmm…wonder if the price differential has anything to do with the dermatologist’s opposition to tanning beds.

      1. Nah, the price difference is the fact a Dermatologist can bilk the insurance company for $115 for a treatment and the consumer doesn’t consider it a cost because the fee is not directly paid by said consumer.

        However, the $7 the tanning salon charges is paid by an actual direct consumer, therefore the salon has to charge a rate that someone is willing to actually pay out of pocket.

        If a third party paid the salon at no extra perceived cost to the consumer, the salon would be charging the same $115…

  7. “Thus, the revenues collected from tanning salon customers over the next 10 years could theoretically supply approximately 90 percent of the money we use to treat melanoma during that time.”

    How much of the cigarette tax revenues actually make it to people with lung cancer? I’m thinking as tax goes to infinity, the amount transferred to cancer patients approaches zero.

    1. I’m thinking as tax goes to infinity, the amount transferred to cancer patients approaches zero.

      And that’s why any object with a non-zero monetary value can never exceed the Speed of Government.

    2. I was under the impression that most cigarette taxes go to fund the educational system.

      “I’m thinking as tax goes to infinity, the amount transferred to cancer patients approaches zero.”

      You’re probably right.

      1. I was under the impression that most cigarette taxes go to fund the educational system.

        Smoke up, its for teh chilldrens

    3. They tried to pass a $2.50/pack tax on smokes a few years back in California. The cost breakdown was something like 50 cents to breast cancer research, 5 cents to prostate cancer research and 1/10th of 1 cent to lung cancer research. Nobody really gives a shit about the deadliest cancer out there it seems.

  8. Two identical twins get identical tans. One twin got his tan by basking in the sun from 1 to 2 pm on five consecutive days. The other twin got his tan via 15 minute tanning bed sessions on five consecutive days. Which twin is more likely to get melanoma? Yes, you guessed correctly, the sun basking twin.

    The tanning bed scare is nonsense; the tax is unfair and unreasonable.

    A more reasonable tax would be on publicly uttered verbiage from politicians. Each such spoken word should be taxed five dollars. The verbiage in legislation should be taxed at one hundred dollars per word for each of the sponsoring legislators. That might put an end to 2400 page bills.

    Signed: A Pathologist

    1. That might put an end to 2400 page bills.

      Or the bills would just get larger once the morons think they’re getting paid per word.

      1. We’ll be ok once they go bankrupt and quit their jobs.

  9. When will the Center for Disease Control address the horrible scourge of Hugh Hefner -based obsessions?

  10. The AADA and the government can blow me. My apartment complex has two private tanning beds for my use. Fuck you, Congress. Fuck you.

    1. It takes two to fit you, eh, fatty?

      1. Stop projecting. I need one for me and one for my dick. I have dick cancer, you horrible person, and you just reminded me of it.

        1. Sorry to break it to you, but that monstrous protuberance is your dick, not a tumor.

          1. My dick is so big it has its own dick. And even my dick’s dick is bigger than your dick.

            1. Drew, I have another idea about how you might save Cleveland, but it involves Larry Craig…

              1. I’m in

        2. Oh, don’t worry about it – it’ll fall off eventually anyway.

    2. I would be willing to bet that at some point arrangements like this will get caught in the net, too. The FTC (or whoever) will declare that x% of your rent is an implied fee that goes towards the tanning bed use and they’ll send a bill to the apartment complex for 10% of x% of your rent. Now, aside from Nancy Pelosi and Chad, who here thinks that Epi’s rent isn’t going to go up in response?


  11. From a quick google search (bolding added):

    The WHO group later deemed tanning devices to be carcinogenic. But the organization emphasized some shortcomings in the research, such as the inability of most studies to tease apart the effects of indoor tanning versus sunbathing or to pinpoint how the extent of tanning-bed use — also known as the “dose” — affects skin-cancer risk.

    John Overstreet, a spokesperson for the Indoor Tanning Association, a trade organization representing tanning facilities and suppliers, said in an e-mail that unanswered questions remain. He noted that vitamin D, which is produced by the skin with moderate UV exposure, may have cancer-fighting benefits.

    1. “some shortcomings in the research, such as the inability of most studies to tease apart the effects of indoor tanning versus sunbathing” = “tanning devices are carcinogenic.”

      Eh, not bad, as far as “conclusions that make absolutely no sense” go.

      Now where do i signup for the grant for my study comparing Sucking-A-Tailpipe to Smoking. Granted, the study makes no differentiation between the two activities, but I already have my conclusion formed, so performing the study is really just a formality.

      1. Sounds like you graduated with a B.S. in climatology from the East Anglia University.

  12. “young white women (tanning salons’ primary clientele)”

    I surprised nobody has pointed out this tax is both racist and sexist …

    1. That’s absurd.

    2. that’s completely reasonable and probably true. If you’re already somewhat naturally dark, you don’t need a tan (unless you want to get even darker – though I doubt that would match what supposedly looks good).

      And they probably are young women.

  13. George Hamilton’s gonna be pissed.

  14. If there is a way to “stick it to the public” rest assured they WILL find it!


  15. Ok, I can admit it. I’ve used indoor tanning before. Not the beds you lay down in,(disgusting) and not for vanity purposes.

    I burn easily. Before I go on vacation, I will slowly tan my skin thereby making it less likely to burn in the sun. And since my skin is not burning, my chance of melanoma later in life is slightly reduced.

    So using the government’s logic, do I get some sort of tax rebate for lowering my risk?

    1. No, you should be retroactively taxed for the tanning you got in the past.

  16. I just posted a nested comment up-thread. I am so very sorry for committing that offense against humanity. I feel dirty.

  17. You know what? I don’t give a damn. I prefer excise taxes, if there have to be taxes at all (and apparently there must).

    Excises and use taxes are about a million times better than their alternative, which is the income tax, because if you object to the tax enough, you can not pay it, by not using the product or service. If people who use tanning beds really really hate this tax, they can pull a Tea Party, dump all the tanning beds in Boston Harbor, and force government revenue to $0 per year.

    Yes, it’s painful, particularly if you’re in the business of selling the service, but it will work. You can tell the government to shove their tax up their asses, either because you don’t like that tax or because you think they’re collecting too much in general, or misusing what they do have.

    By contrast, the great evil of the income tax is you can’t go on a tax strike, because you can’t forgo income. If you refuse to use a tanning bed and don’t pay the tax, you aren’t losing wealth — you still have your money! Not the case with the income tax, where the only Tea Party you can pull is to impoverish yourself.

    There! you say, crouching under the bridge with your tin of dogfood, that sure showed government! Didn’t get a penny out of me! See? Totally doesn’t work.

    So by all means, if we have to have taxes, let them be excise taxes, and if they are excise taxes on luxury goods (like tanning beds), then so much the better — so much the easier for citizens to tell government to stick it, with minimal pain and sacrifice.

    The fact that this tax was levied on the politically less powerful constituency bothers me not one whit. Excise taxes are pretty much by definition arbitrary. Why tax whiskey and not milk? Why cigarettes but not chocolate? And so on. Unless you tax everything, there’s some arbitrary choice, and of course it’s going to fall on whomever can’t defend themselves politically and/or whomever is seen to have buckets of ready cash (hello Big Oil!). This isn’t a failure of the system — it’s the system in operation, since your political power scales fairly well with the breadth and depth (i.e. wealth, passion, telegenicity) of your customer base. In essence, in this case, the number of customers multiplied by passion per customer is considerably higher in cosmetic surgery than in the tanning bed market, so for the tax to fall on the latter is democracy in action. To have it be the reverse would be perverse, to say the least.

    1. It’s perverse both ways and one is not more perverse than the other.

      1. Of course it is. Would you suggest that both kinds of taxes are precisely equally perverse, to the 12th decimal place? Of course not. If only slightly, one is worse than the other.

        And if there’s one lesson that ought to be hammered firmly into every voter’s head, it’s that if you fail to hold your nose and pick the lesser of the two evils on offer, someone else will, and stick you with the results.

    2. Interesting and well-said. I’ve written something similar around here, in defense (sort of) of sin taxes. My argument is: since we know taxes suppress whatever is taxed, why not tax something arguably harmful, like alcohol or tobacco, instead of something that is universally positive, like income or employment or investment or retail sales? Yes, it’s a value judgment that infringes on freedom, but how is it worse than an unavoidable tax that discourages things we want everybody to have more of?

    3. It seems to me that I am already taxed on my income. So this is not a replacement tax for an income tax, this is an additional tax. It is not the lesser of 2 evils it is the adding of a second evil to the first evil.

      1. But it is better than raising the income tax. And our governments are hugely in debt, so money needs to be raised somehow (and yes, spending needs to be cute – but that doesn’t stop the former from also being true).

        1. No, just cut spending. Keep tax rates where they are.

          God, what IS it with you fucks who think tax hikes are the only answer?


            But we’re in fuck-shit loads of debt, and we need to get out. A little more tax revenue will help.

            God you’re a fucking asshole

            1. More Tax Revenue Without More Taxation.


            2. Creating new taxes is a liberal mindset, Edwin. And you’re playing right into their hands by agreeing with them.

              1. Bullshit. You are so full of shit. You’re not a libertarian – you’re a Republican partisan douche who, because he’s against taxes, THINKS he’s a libertarian.

                Is getting rid of the national debt not a libertarian goal? Do we want to dive full speed ahead into bankruptcy?

                While the vast majority of useful corrections will involve spending cuts, tax revenues do need to be raised a little. For example, last I checked, the complexity of the tax code helping the rich avoid income taxes was one of the biggest libertarian arguments for simplifying the tax code.

                1. Don’t question my bonafides, prick. You sound like a local liberal who accuses me of being a Republican because I voted for ONE Republican in the 2008 primary.

                  YOU sound like a Democrat every time you use terms like “the rich”. Either you’re on-board with capitalism, or you’re the enemy. Which is it, Edwin?

                  1. It’s like this, Edwin, and I don’t want to have to retype this, so pay attention:

                    By voting for Ron Paul in the 2008 primary, I broke a twelve-year streak of NOT voting for Republicans.

                    Chisel it in granite for future reference. Or tattoo it on your forehead. Just as long as you remember the truth.

                    1. Clarification of above:

                      That twelve-year moratorium on not voting for Republicans includes primaries AND general elections.

                      Now, you were about to apologize, right?

                    2. Bullshit. I’m on board with capitalism. But you can’t have capitalism if your capitalist country goes bankrupt. Libertarians can’t be universally against taxes unless they’re the anarchist type. From there, it’s a matter of which taxes are better or worse. And you know which taxes seem better to me – taxes on stuff that no one really needs all that badly, like tanning parlors. Know what taxes are really bad? taxes on stuff people need like their income, housing, and food.

                      And remember, dumb-shit, you were the one who assumed I wasn’t a libertarian. You’re the one with the bullshit no-true-scotsman about supporting taxes. I’m just calling you out on your bullshit.

                    3. *yawn*

                      Are you done, prickface? Gonna talk more about supporting tax increases while pretending to be a libertarian?

                      I say no to MORE taxes, Edwin. As in “don’t add any new taxes”. If WE have to live within our means, then by God so should the government.

                      Or are you so hung up on incrementalism that you can’t see the bigger picture – cut fucking spending, and keep taxes where they are, if not lower. AND simpler. No one should have to pay a fucking accountant to do their personal returns.

                      Now, apologize, cunt.

                    4. I wouldn’t hold my breath, TLG. Edwin is one of those types who thinks “eh, fuck ’em, fuckin’ morons spend money on tanning booths, they deserve to be taxed”, while not realizing such a tax won’t do Goddamned Thing One to fix or cure any problems or ailments. It’s just more money wasted on government handouts and half-assed road repairs and turning down Danish help on the oil-spill cleanup.

                      Edwin may not sound like Bernie Sanders, but he does sound like a liberal-leaning tax-and-spend Republican. Which is just as bad, in its own way.

                    5. I’m still waiting for him to retract his specious lie about my being a Republican.

                    6. …or an anarchist.

                    7. Playing the “no true Scotsman” card isn’t going to work here, either. This appears to be about not adding new taxes, especially pointless ones – and that is the kind of thing a Democrat would recommend.

                    8. you guys are the one no-true-scotsmanning

                    9. In my ten years in the LP, I have YET to meet a libertarian who supports the creation of new taxes, Edwin.

                      What kind of “libertarian” circles do YOU hang out in?

                    10. Who said I support the creation of new taxes? It’s all a matter of comparisons, you shrill absolutist douchebag. In the grand scheme of things, a tax on tanning beds doesn’t seem so bad. Ignoring how many new taxes, if any, the government should create, some kinds of taxes tend to be worse than others.

                      I’m telling you something very reasonable and true, and all you can do is yell and scream “No taxes!” Is it any wonder libertarians don’t get shit done, with half of them having no ability to compromise, or just admit to basic annoying realities?

                    11. It’s a pointless vanity tax, Edwin. It won’t solve Jack Shit. And you’ve been doing a bang-up job advocating for it, by way of saying “it ain’t so bad in the grand scheme of things” and whatnot.

                      Why should anyone have to pony up any more of their money? MAKE GOVERNMENT DO WITHOUT. Make them tighten THEIR goddamned belts for a change, instead of passing the fucking hat for pennies every five fucking minutes.

                      God, this is why I left the GOP *AND* the Democrats. Bullshit like this, right here, that we’ve been sparring over for the past few days – bullshit feel-good taxes on piddly shit like tanning. That tax won’t solve a damn thing, Edwin.

                      But go on, do tell us why we need it.

                    12. You’re doing exactly what I’m saying. I never advocated for the tax, I never said it was necessary, all I was trying to say is some taxes are worse than others, and this one doesn’t seem so bad. But since you’re a reactionary, dogmatic douche, you only see it as a “liberal” trying to impose new taxes. You’re so fucking partisan to your stupid, myopic holy philosophy that you blow every little comment out of proportion. Is it any wonder no one takes libertarians seriously?

                      “…taxes on piddly shit like tanning”
                      Exactly. Piddly shit. As in less important than food, rent, and income. You just admitted to my premise dumbass.

      2. What the supporters of this are NOT getting, Craig, is that piddly-assed revenge taxes like this one won’t do jack shit to plug the debt hole.

        The only reason anyone would support this tax, is to get even with people they don’t like. Just as with cigarette taxes, taxes on fatty/sugary foods, higher taxes on beer or liquor… it’s all the same: Get-evenism. Pure and simple.

        1. You’re implying Craig’s motives with accepting “excise” taxes like this are to actually plug the debt hole. It seems to me from reading quite a bit on here lately (to get some perspective before chining in), that the goal is to desensitize us to taxing behavior.

          Tanning beds, smokes and booze are nice soft targets. Next, fatty foods and sodas because they are causing health problems. (Already taxing items that are unhealthy, so why not) After that, increase the gas tax because increasing it helps our planet (bullshit) and helps national security (more bullshit-but enough fools will buy it since excise taxes already exist to sinners). After that, put an excise tax on boats because they are luxury items (spoilers of the oceans)…..and second cars in households(only the rich would need that)…and golf clubs because the courses are a waste of natural resources and horrible chemicals are used in fertilizers (besides, if rich people can afford $80 per round, they can afford $8 more in taxes for their luxury).

          Anyway, the list goes on and on. Meanwhile, the income tax rate remains constant and we all enjoy less of our disposable income. Oh, and all the while, the federal government spends roughly half of the additional tax revenue in administration.

          1. It’s being SOLD as a way to raise revenue to fix shortfalls, which is just as stupid as the act of applying such a tax in the first place.

            I don’t know what Craig’s motives are, but I can guess the motives of those who actually implement such useless taxes.

    4. That would be a good argument if there were any chance of getting rid of the income tax.

  18. This is why lobbying groups like the American Cancer Society, American Lung Assosciation, etc, will never see dime one from me ever again.

    Fuck you and your totalitarian bullshit. Persuasion isn’t enough for you to get people to act they way you want them to act. Since they won’t do it the easy way, you’re all too happy to do it the hard way. It’s for their own good, after all.

    When words fail, bring in the jackboot. May you die in a fire.

    1. Two points:

      (1) You’re an idiot. Both these organizations do wonderful work supporting people who actually have cancer, and thumbing your nose at them because a vaguely similar lobbying group of dermatologists succeeded in slapping a 10% tax on your tan demonstrates an amazing lack of ability to set priorities.

      (2) I suspect the amount you donate annually to these organizations is, at best, a two-figure number. I don’t quite see the president of either ringing up personally in fear and remorse to beg Your Honor to reconsider.

      1. (1) eat my balls

        (2) see (1)

      2. ACS and the ALA were the driving lobbyists behind most indoor smoking-bans and increasing excise taxes. I take your point about excise taxes, but at some point it goes from necessary and arbitrary evil to punitive bullying and ostracization, so fuck your apologetics.

      3. Mangler and TAO pretty much covered it for me, Carl. Feel free to join your beloved jackbooted prohibitionists in the fire.

      4. Both these organizations do wonderful work supporting people who actually have cancer

        And that’s a classic technique for shutting down debate. Will grant you your premise for the sake of argument, even though I suspect that ACS and ALA fund research more than they actually directly provide financial support to cancer patients.

        However, like the Catholic Church trotting out Mother Teresa, no amount of good works can whitewash the anti-freedom agenda and activities of those organizations.

        Perhaps ACS/ALA are blissfully unaware of this, but I suspect not. Were they “supporting people who actually have cancer” perhaps they would do well to jettison their embedded lobbying group of dermatologists who are using the groups’ highly publicized good works to provide cover for their less savory acts.

  19. Lower-income single women are the core DemocRAT constituency, who spend a lot of discretionary income on “tanning”.

    1. Oh, I don’t know, I think a huge chunk of their constituency has never had any need for tanning.

      1. Albinos?

        1. Zing!

  20. “A tax on indoor tanning services would serve as a signal from the federal government to everyone, especially young people, that indoor tanning is dangerous and should be avoided,”

    So…do income taxes serve as a signal from gov’t that making money is dangerous and should be avoided?

  21. Beato:

    “donut” => “doughnut”

    And why is there an “xxx” before the start of one of the paragraphs. Is that the alt-text of a nudie tanning bed photo?

  22. “So why not also levy a tanning tax against old bald guys who play a lot of golf but refuse to wear hats?”

    As an old guy who is not bald and does not play golf and does wear a hat, I think this is a fantastic idea.

    1. Feels pretty good, huh?

  23. Also, people in Alaska are heavy users of tanning beds. When they go on vacation it’s inevitably to someplace with more intense sunlight and they need to pre-tan to prevent burning.

    1. We call it “fake-n-bake”, and we mock the people who do it, mostly out of jealousy. I, however, have the totally natural “Alaska tan”, a translucent shade of blue, also popular in Scotland.

      And I know that no one will ever see my comment, but it was so clever I had to post it anyway.

      1. seen

  24. So basically libertarains will complain when the government tries to prevent cancer, and later will complain when they are taxed in order to treat cancer victims.

    It makes me wonder what Libertarians would do in Libertopia with nothing to complain about?

    1. Create Galt Gulch, of course!

    2. We’d always have doosh canoes like you.

  25. You don’t think this is also a tax on Caucasians? Who else uses a tanning place….

  26. This tax might do more to bring small government ideas to the masses than any number of Stossel interviews or teabag protests.

    The MTV movie awards had a preview of the second season of “Jersey Shore” and Snookie was complaining how Obama was sticking his nose into people’s business by taxing the tanning salons!

    GTL, baby!

  27. Let disproportional impact lawsuits commence!

  28. I am waiting for the tax on charcoal grilling, using an escalator (instead of the stairs), and boobie bars.

    1. tax on charcoal grilling

      Tax? I’m waiting for the complete ban…then i step in with my Black Market Charcoal.

      1. Well, burning charcoal WILL accelerate global climate change, so of course I’m against it.

  29. In the old system, insurers exercised biases against people with pre-existing conditions. In the new one, the biases are being transferred to people with pre-existing behaviors–especially when those behaviors are easily taxable.

    I’m with Beato on this article, but the logic behind this statement doesn’t hold up. There is a huge difference between denying any insurance coverage to someone with an existing condition and asking for an extra $5 to tan.

  30. How about the people that use tanning as a healing agent? I have alopecia which is an immune disorder which causes hairloss, and the tanning bed helps speed up the hair replenishment…or my brother who has psoriasis also uses the tanning bed when he has a flair…should I be asking for my insurance to be paying my monthly service fee for tanning?

  31. Obama has a nice tan.

  32. If the head of the Indoor Tanning Association is predicting “dark days ahead,” wouldn’t that actually create a boon to his industry?

  33. I still don’t know what the American Dodgeball Association of America is doing interjecting their opinions into this matter anyway. Are they looking to pad their pockets so they can payoff the Patches O’Houlihan wrongful death suit at one of their sanctioned events?

  34. We have to find a way to catch scofflaws who will just use the sun as a source of tanning energy. I’ll have My staff look into it.

    1. So, does that mean we can expect a usage fee to be issued by the EPA? Mind you, it’s not gonna be a tax either, just a fee.

      1. Maybe, just to be safe, everyone should have to pay the tax – even if they don’t use tanning equipment – to make it fair.

  35. I support tanning in any form. It sharpens one’s eyesight and aids in decision making during pressure-filled situations.

  36. What about the dangers of second-hand tanning exposure? Seeing people with great tans necessarily leads to people emulating that look, and thus, you have a second wave of tanning bed exposure, a third, and so on. So, of course tanning beds pose a grave danger to our youth, except for fans of Marilyn Manson, Goths, nightshift workers and the cast of the Twilight Saga (from what I hear, of course).

  37. Oh dear Bastiat next they are going to tax the sun!!!!

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