One of many pieces of the Affordable Care Act (also known as Obamacare) that Republicans plan to do away with is a tax on indoor tanning bed services that was implemented in 2010.
Why? According to Congressman Jason Smith, R-MO, one of the reasons is that the tax discriminates against women.
“What I found on Google is roughly 80% of who’s taxed are women,” he said at a meeting of the House Ways and Means Committee this week. “So out of the $600 million that has been created by this tax … $480 million has come from the backs and the pockets of women.”
“Today’s International Women Day,” Smith continued. “It’s interesting that no one is bringing that up.” He then proposed that if the government was going to tax tanning beds, it might as well tax the sun—which, he said, according to his internet research, actually causes more skin cancer.
But dermatologists say there’s good reason for the tax—and that by acting as a deterrent against tanning, it has the potential to protect more women, and men, than it hurts.
The 10% tax affects most facilities that offer tanning booths or beds, which are required to collect this tax from customers. (It does not apply to spray-on tanning services, topical creams and lotions, physical fitness facilities that meet specific criteria, or to phototherapy services performed at licensed medical practices.)
Critics argue that the tax has forced tanning salons to close and resulted in lost jobs, and some have claimed that it’s racist against people with light skin; now, Smith says it disproportionately hurts women. In the same meeting, Congressman Jim Renacci, R-OH, argued that tanning “actually could be healthy,” according to some studies. (He did not specify which studies.)
But dermatologists beg to differ.