Tanning salons take hit with 10% tax

Kyla Smith The Detroit News

A poster of a tanned couple hung on the back wall surrounded by shelves of tanning lotions and oils, as John Hodges, owner of Club Soleil scanned his financial records.

“Since 2010, my business has decreased by 37 percent,” said Hodges. “That’s even with the additional business I picked (up) from some of the surrounding tanning salons that have closed in the last few years.”

After the Affordable Care Act passed in 2010 with the tan tax, businesses that operate ultraviolet tanning lamps are required to add a 10 percent tax on all sales of tanning services.

Local tanning salons are feeling the heat as the 10-percent tax have left some businesses struggling to stay to open. Across the United States, more than 1,000 tanning salons have closed its doors in the past years, with more than eight salons closing in Metro Detroit.

Over the course of 10 years, the tan tax was expected to generate $2.7 billion in revenue but the number has since been revised to $1.5 billion, according to the Tax Foundation.

“It’s hard for a small business to survive with the added tax,” said Hodges, who owns salons in Madison Heights and Royal Oak. “For some of my clients who want a spray tan or use a tanning bed, an extra $10 dollars adds up, which can result in a loss for the both of us.”

The tan tax is an added burn to the industry with public health warnings stating that tanning beds increase the risk of developing skin cancer, according to the National Cancer Institute.

“A significant amount of evidence shows that tanning puts people at high risk for developing melanoma, a deadly form of skin cancer,” said Dr. Henry Lim, a dermatologist at Henry Ford Hospital. “Because the ultraviolent light increases endorphins, the feel-good chemical in the brain, people often become addicted to tanning, which can cause a great risk.”

Before the price increase, Hodges said his customers hadn’t overused the tanning bed services.

“Tanning twice a month is not unhealthy. Going 30 days in a month is, but all of our staff is trained and would not allow that,” said Hodges, who is also a tax attorney. “Since Michigan is a state that doesn’t get much sun, I think it would be beneficial for everyone to visit a tanning salon.”

Erica Moore, 37, of Livonia, who tans in salons three times a month, does not plan on cutting down her tanning sessions.

“I was annoyed to find out that the cost of tanning would increase due to taxes, but I don’t think I will stop going. Now, I just try and save extra money to go toward my tanning expenses,” Moore said. “It’s worth it to me because I’m in love with the ‘I just came from an island vacation look’.”


(313) 222-1855

Twitter: @kylasmith525