Everyone in the melanoma-for-sale business is perplexed about the tanning tax that goes into effect today and the Journal reports that the hella confusion is mostly about why some businesses are able to dodge the tax while others are not.
Case in point, health clubs get to offer their George Hamilton specials tax free while video stores (?) that offer tanning do not.
When Jeanne Chamberlain turns up at work Thursday, she’s going to have to grapple with America’s first federal tax on tanning services, a 10% levy designed to help pay for Congress’s health-care overhaul.
Ms. Chamberlain runs a video-rental store.
These would normally be unrelated facts, but 20 years ago, Ms. Chamberlain followed a number of her peers in adding tanning services to smooth out the bumps in her Rice Lake, Wis., business. Today, she wants to offer one free tan for every three rentals. Should that freebie be taxed? Ms. Chamberlain doesn’t know, and even if she did, she doesn’t yet have the software in place to help with the calculations.
For starters, video stores still exist? We had just assumed that they had gone out with powdered wigs. Netflix, Hulu, etc. etc. And since when do they offer tanning services? “Oh I see you’ve got Gigli there, great choice. Would like to hop in one of our tanning beds while I rewind the tape?”
Anyway, back to the tax:
Among the new details: “qualified physical fitness facilities” that include access to tanning beds as part of their membership fee won’t be subject to the tax.
That means customers at Sun Tan City in Owensboro, Ky., will pay 10% more for a dose of ultraviolet rays. But if they go to Anytime Fitness 100 yards away, and tan inside one of its two beds, they’ll escape.
“My jaw dropped,” said Rick Kueber, founder and chief executive of Sun Tan City, a 124-outlet chain based in Elizabethtown, Ky. Then he got to thinking. “If I had six treadmills in each of my stores, can I call myself a health club?”
Can anyone explain this? Our best guess is that since health clubs force you to get you off your ass, while video stores put you back on them, they’re getting a break. That seems to be pretty advanced for Congress logic but we’ll assume that it’s in the ballpark.
But It’s really NBD for the committed to skin cancer crowd however, “[Fifteen-year-old Grace] McCleary and others who lounged last week in the notorious Land of the Tanned – see MTV’s Jersey Shore – said a few dollars tacked on wouldn’t deter them.”
Fortunately, the IRS has advice (as it always does) for those affected and our resident tax sage, Joe Kristan has the details. So, there’s no risk to the industry as a whole – thank god – just a little extra bureaucracy in the pot in the form of Form 720. Enjoy!
Federal Tan Tax Burns Some Badly but Keeps Everybody in the Dark [WSJ]
Tanning-bed enthusiasts say tax won’t deter them [Philadelphia Inquirer]