Gov’t Picking Winners in the Tanning Booth Industry

Tanning services at tanning salons hit with 10% tax starting June 2010 but “qualified physical fitness facilities” down the street offering tanning services will not be hit with the tax…

7.2.2010

On commemoration of the day our forefathers declared their independence, I thought I would share just one of the ways that today’s troop of politicians puts our freedoms in the toilet. I am specifically talking about economic freedom and messing with someone’s livelihood.

Wall Street Journal – Federal Tax Burns Some Badly…

I’m sure you didn’t notice this, nor did most Congressmen notice this, in the Obamacare bill (mainly because most Congressmen didn’t read it) but one of the provisions passed to help pay for this ‘program’ causes government to pick ‘winners’ in the tanning booth industry. How?

Apparently, and I didn’t have time to read the 1 million page health care bill (so I can really understand why my Congressman didn’t have time to either) but a new tax on tanning booths of 10% is currently in force – for tanning salons- but tanning at health spas was exempt (due to some timely lobbying from that industry – GREASY politicians at work – according to the WSJ article linked above, Botox was to be hit with the ‘botax’ but the American Medical Association lobbied that away).

So what’s going to happen? People tanning at tanning salons will refuse to pay the extra 10% tax and get their tans at a health spa( qualified physical fitness facilities as the law titles them – “qualified” eh? Are you kidding me? I’m so glad over 50% of Congress is made up of lawyers, because we need people to come up with these official-sounding phrases) where there is no tax. In addition, tanning salon owners now have to purchase expensive new sfotware and pay higher accounting fees to keep track of this new ‘decree.’

Some of you might defend this with the line of reasoning used to include this tax in the bill – ‘a cancer causing activity should be taxed since this is  health care bill funding needed.’ I’ll respond to that 2 ways – one is, if you want to go down that road, let’s address the biggest health problems in our country – WESTERN DIET-RELATED ‘DISEASES.’  Heart disease, stroke, cholesterol and other related issues are directly linked to what we eat. Many cancers are also related to either what we eat or what we do (with smoking and yes, UV exposure being some causes). Two, who are you to tell one group of people you can have something and another group you can’t have something – who gave you that right? The only way you the reader would properly understand the danger of these actions by Congress is to HAVE CONGRESS TAKE SOMETHING FROM YOU ARBITRARILY. And the way they are going, look out – maybe you own an ice cream store (causes obesity) or a movie theater (causes sloth), or maybe you are an office worker in a potential target industry. If you don’t step up now, there may be no end to what these people will do.

But why are we singling out tanning salon owners?

LIKELY BECAUSE THEY COULDN’T LOBBY TO DEFEND THEMSELVES. Congress picking on minorities to get their boondoggle ‘funded’ (you do know that that thing is not fully funded don’t you? That’s part of the reason for hedge fund manager David Einhorn’s talk titled “Good News for the Grandchildren“). So now, some tanning salons will simply close – put out of business by their government – the US government has effectively chosen winners in this industry with their tax policy (shouldn’t surprise you – they picked winners in other businesses including the financial business – backing AIG, B of A, and Wells while letting Lehman fail – with your money of course).

I don’t know about you, but I am tired of convoluted bills being passed by Congress with a myriad of mish mash provisions that we, average citizens, can’t keep track of. When they pass a 2,000 page bill, they KNOW we won’t read it – we expect them to represent us well – but they don’t. Back room deals for the fitness center industry and the AMA to the detriment of tanning salon owners is unacceptable. Government needs to be minimized – because if I sat down, I couldn’t dream up of some of the foolish bills this Congress comes up with – I would not have thought of a tanning booth tax – but hey, some dork intern at some Congressman’s office (likely with pale, sickly skin :)) came up with this one.

And Congress is not alone in this – in my own state of Massachusetts, we have “customized” laws. I have a friend who’d like to open up a unique concept in the wine business. If you heard the idea, you would think it was a good idea too. However, under current MA law, it is not allowed. Why? I’m not sure but likely sometime years ago, someone in the liquor lobby paid off someone in my state’s esteemed legislature to make this rule.

This won’t end unless we elect people who respect our freedoms. Some of us may not be hit now, but in the future, we will be and then we will all understand.

Note:

For a lamentation from a thoughtful private fund manager regarding how difficult it is to invest when the government interferes in business on a daily basis according the “applause meter,” click HERE.