Indoor Tanning Industry under FDA and IRS Scrutiny

Jul 06, 2010   

Indoor tanning has drawn the attention of both the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recently. Both administrative bodies are taking action that will have effects on the indoor tanning industry.

IRS Announces New Tax on Indoor Tanning

The IRS has announced new regulations administering a 10-percent excise tax on indoor tanning that became effective on July 1, just in time for the summer vacation season. (The IRS announcement is available here.) Indoor tanning salons will collect the new tax when a customer pays for tanning services. The tanning salon then pays that tax to the federal government on a quarterly basis.

Phototherapy services that are performed by a licensed medical professional are exempt from this excise tax. Additionally, some physical fitness facilities that offer tanning as a supplementary service to members without charging a separate fee are exempt.

There are some record-keeping aspects of this new tax and tanning salon owners need to be aware of the new regulations and IRS guidance when conducting business.

FDA Warns of Tanning Health Risks

The FDA has issued a Consumer Health Information publication titled Indoor Tanning: The Risks of Ultraviolet Rays warning of the dangers posed by devices such as sunlamps and tanning beds. FDA scientists are cautioning consumers that a tan is the skins reaction to exposure to UV rays and that this damage will lead to prematurely aged skin and could possibly result in skin cancer.

The FDA regulates radiation-emitting products, including sunlamps and products that contain sunlamps, like tanning beds, tanning booths, and portable home units. The FDA has taken UV-exposure studies conducted by FDA officials and the National Cancer Institute (NCI) under review and is considering whether it is necessary to change the performance standards for sunlamp products.

In March of this year, the FDA held an advisory committee meeting seeking independent, professional expertise and advise on regulatory issues related to tanning devices. At this public meeting, the agency heard many suggestions from health professionals, scientists, tanning industry representatives, and consumers. The FDA is now considering revising some requirements for tanning beds including strengthening the warning labels to make consumers more aware of the risks the sunlamps present.

Tanning salons use lamps that emit both UV-A and UV-B radiation, both of which damage the skin and cause skin cancer. The FDA lists premature aging, immune suppression, eye damage, and allergic reaction as additional risks posed by tanning. Moreover, the FDA has noted that sunlamps could be more dangerous than the sun because the sunlamps can be used at the same high intensity every day of the year, unlike the suns intensity which can vary depending on the time of day and the season.

The FDA has expressed particular concern about children and teenagers exposed to UV rays particularly because teenage girls and young women make up a large number of tanning salon customers.

For more information on how FDA medical device regulations or the new IRS excise tax could affect your business, please contact us at