Tanning Salons: The Next Step in Sin Taxation?

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We've heard of cigarette taxes being used to fund lung cancer research. We've also heard of alcohol taxes dedicated to alcohol treatment efforts. We've even heard of the idea to tax unhealthy foods to raise money for combating obesity. Along these same lines comes a new proposal out of Utah to tax tanning salons at a 10% rate to fund melanoma research.

Frankly, Utah would be much better off if it expanded its sales tax base to include tanning services. Twenty two states already do so. Admittedly, the 4.7% sales tax rate won't raise as much revenue as the 10% tax, but it would provide advocates of the tanning tax with much stronger footing on tax policy grounds. Given that their 10% tax failed to make it out of committee, it's certainly an idea worth considering.

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