An effort to repeal the 10 percent federal tax on indoor tanning services stalled-out in the United States Senate last week after passing in the U.S. House of Representatives on Thursday December 20th – falling just short of the finish line for the third time in three years just before legislators recessed to end the 115th United States Congress.
The tan tax repeal — bipartisan legislation introduced in January in both houses of Congress by U.S. Rep. George Holding (R-NC), Rep. Colin Peterson (D-Minn), U.S. Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) and Sen. Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND) — had jumped through hoops all year to gain broad-based support in Congress and the White House. The bills had 85 co-sponsors in Congress in 2018.
That support got the tan tax repeal effort to be among less than a dozen stand-alone bills anchored within the one omnibus tax bill – HR88 – a tax reform bill authored by U.S. Rep Kevin Brady, R-Texas, who chairs the powerful U.S. House Ways and Means Committee. Congressional leaders targeted Brady’s bill as the one tax bill to move through Congress in the lame-duck session following the 2018 election in November.
Brady’s tax reform bill passed the U.S. House of Representatives December 20th on a 220-183 vote. But the Senate bill, sponsored by Paul and supported by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, was not taken up on the senate’s last day of the session. Some believe this was due to the government shut-down becoming the sole focus of the Senate over the holiday period.
Getting the tan tax repeal bill through the U.S. House Ways and Means and vetted into other legislation was a year-long push for the American Suntanning Association – which has held more than 3,000 meetings on the Hill to discuss the unfair targeting of professional indoor tanning facilities by Congress and other federal agencies.
ASA’s federal team believes that salon closings and jobs lost is the reason we have been received into more than 3,000 meetings on Capitol Hill since 2013. “These meetings have created opportunities to develop relationships with important members and senators that we wouldn’t have received without the tan tax repeal effort,” said ASA President Melinda Norton. “The Tan Tax story has been the ASA’s calling card in Washington and is why so many key politicians know who we are today.”
The “Tan Tax” went into effect in July 2010 – the first tax in place as part of the Affordable Care Act. Congressional leaders in December 2009 made a last-minute deal to put the tan tax into the ACA in place of a would-be 5 percent tax on Botox injections. The tax was the first in the Affordable Care Act to take effect – going into place before IRS could even communicate how to collect it.
ASA has communicated to Congress that the 10 percent “tanning salon tax” was fiscally irresponsible and totally ineffective. The tax totally failed as a revenue producer for the Affordable Care Act, closed more than 10,000 businesses, killed 100,000 jobs and pushed those who wish to use sunbeds into non-salon tanning where sunburn was more likely. It’s hard to imagine any other way the tax could have been a failure.
ASA will continue to work with Washington lawmakers to protect the industry from further regulations and will continue to look for opportunities to repeal the onerous tan tax.
“The Tan Tax got into the Affordable Care Act in 2009 because indoor tanning professionals did not have a presence or early warning system on Capitol Hill,” ASA’s Norton said. “That is no longer the case.”