Irish Cancer Society welcomes rise in VAT on sunbed use

Donohoe announces tax on services used by 150,000 people last year to increase to 23%

An increase in VAT on sunbed services has been welcomed by the Irish Cancer Society, but may put financial pressure on tanning salons.

In his budget speech on Tuesday, Minister for Finance Paschal Donohoe announced he would increase VAT on sunbed services from 13.5 per cent to 23 per cent in line with the National Cancer Strategy.

“This is in recognition of the clear evidence of a link between sunbeds and skin cancer, the most common form of cancer in Ireland,” Mr Donohoe said.

Welcoming the announcement, Donal Buggy, head of services and advocacy at the Irish Cancer Society, said recent research commissioned by the society showed 150,000 people in Ireland used a sunbed in the last year.


“The modest price increase from the VAT rise will hopefully disincentive sunbed use, particularly among young people, who are at greater risk from the harms of sunbeds,” he said.

“In the long term we would like to see an exploration of a complete, or partial ban on sunbeds, as part of the development of the Skin Cancer Prevention Plan by the Department of Health, under the National Cancer Strategy 2017-2026.”

Aga Keger, manager of Boshka hair and beauty salon, in Blanchardstown, Dublin, which offers a range of beauty services, including sunbed treatments, was shocked to hear of the VAT increase and had not been aware that it might happen.

“The price is €1 a minute; if I have to change the price I will have no customers,” she said.

The typical customer will pay for five minutes or 10 minutes if they are returning from holiday and wish to maintain a tan, she said, and the service must be charged on a pay-as-you-go basis, without any incentives.

Incentives, such as “happy hours” and loyalty cards, were banned under regulations in 2015.

Ms Keger said sunbeds were expensive to run and the beds needed to be serviced and cleaned as well. She said they would now consider closing down the tanning end of the business.

“We may close it and make room for a nail bar or something like that,” she said.

Fiona Gartland

Fiona Gartland

Fiona Gartland is a crime writer and former Irish Times journalist