My family and I are taking the new tax personally.

One of the many items tucked into the government overhaul of America's health care system is a 10 percent sales tax on tanning salons.

According to The Wall Street Journal, the tan tax was added so that the Botox tax could be removed.

Cartoon by Adam Zyglis - Buffalo News (click to purchase)

Cartoon by Adam Zyglis - Buffalo News (click to purchase)

As it went, our politicians, looking for ways to make it appear their massive bill would be "paid for," had to come up with all kinds of gimmicks -- such as a 5 percent sales tax on Botox.

Botox, however, is administered by plastic surgeons. Plastic surgeons have the dough to hire expensive lobbyists. The expensive lobbyists were able to get the "Botax" removed from the bill.

Politicians found it much easier to tax tanning salons instead.

For starters, tanning lamps, much like the sun, generate ultraviolet rays. Overexposure to ultraviolet rays can cause skin cancer.

Since politicians haven't figured out how to tax the sun, a "sin" tax on tanning beds was the next best thing.

Besides, tanning salons are easy targets.

If the Web site The Medical News ( is to be believed, most tanning salons are owned by women - including women who drive 1998 Camaros with the T-tops off, as they chain-smoke Marlboro Lights and yell at their boyfriends.

Such business owners aren't as organized as plastic surgeons. They have fewer funds to pay for expensive lobbyists, which made it easy for politicians to slap a 10 percent sales tax on them -- one that goes into effect this July.

And my family and I are taking the whole thing personally -- because we are cursed with fair, freckly skin that burns easily in the sun.

One year, in the 1970s, our parents took us to the ocean for the first time. The temperature was in the upper 90s that week. My father begged us to be wary of the hot sun.

Nonetheless, we raced to the beach as soon as we arrived. We got scorched so badly the first day, we spent the rest of the week inside our condo, soaking in Epsom salts, the blinds drawn, my father grumbling to our mother, "For godsakes, Betty, I told them to be wary of the sun."

If only the tanning bed had been available then.

When I was in my early 20s, in the 1980s, it was available. I used one every summer to tan just enough so that when I went to the pool or the beach, I never got burned.

But that was long ago -- before the government overhauled our healthcare system.

Our government doesn't want us to use tanning beds (though it does want the tax dough). The 10 percent sales tax is intended to dissuade us from doing so.

As the economy is being made ever more uncertain by unprecedented government meddling, that doesn't bode well for my fair-skinned family.

Tanning at a salon was an unneeded expense in a good economy. In this economy, it is a costly extravagance -- and that was before it got 10 percent more expensive. We can't afford the cost.

Thus, as the summer nears, my family and I have one less weapon in our arsenal to fend off a nasty burn.

My mother, desperate to try something to achieve a tan look, purchased a can of spray-on tan. It didn't work out so well.

"For godsakes, Betty," my father said to her. "You look like they plucked you out of a Florida orange grove!"

The law of unintended government consequences strikes again.

Now you know why my family and I are taking it personally.


©2010 Tom Purcell. Tom Purcell, a humor columnist for the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, is nationally syndicated exclusively by Cagle Cartoons newspaper syndicate. For more info contact Cari Dawson Bartley at 800 696 7561 or email [email protected]. Visit Tom on the web at or e-mail him at [email protected].