Operators hot over tanning tax

Published 9:49 pm Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Jane Castello has owned Tan Oasis in Suffolk for five years. She has seen a loyal customer base come in month after month, ensuring they have the best tan possible before heading out.

Beginning July 1, the simple act of lying in a tanning bed will become at least 10 percent more expensive, and Castello is not at all happy about it.

“This is not us raising prices. This was not brought about by us,” Castello said. “This is the federal government and the new healthcare reform bill.”

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Beginning today, a 10 percent sales tax will now be applied to all tanning sessions, a measure that was part of the contentious health care reform legislation.

“Our customers are very loyal and they may understand what is happening,” Castello said. “But for others, they will just think we’ve raised prices. That’s simply not the case.”

Although tanning materials, such as lotions and goggles, have always been subject to sales tax, the service of tanning has been tax-free. That ends today.

According to the website www.repealtantax.com, the tanning tax portion of the health care legislation was “not drafted by congressional staff and did not go through normal legislative vetting process or any committee consideration.”

“As a result,” the statement on the website continues, “it is poorly drafted, will be extremely difficult to collect and will harm thousands of small businesses and affect millions of consumers …”

Castello said in preparing for the addition of the tax, she is unsure even where to send it.

“Beginning Thursday we are going to start collecting the tax, but my accountant doesn’t even know how to collect and where to send it,” Castello said. “We know that have to start charging it beginning July 1.”

The National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB), an organization strongly opposed to the tax, predicted the tax would generate $2.7 billion over the first 10 years of its collection.

“Right now small businesses need to concentrate on making payroll and encouraging customers to come through their doors,” NFIB tax counsel Bill Rys. “New taxes like this amount to a 10 percent increase in the cost of doing business, and that money has to come from somewhere. Higher taxes mean less investment, reduced growth and fewer customers — hardly the prescription for future job growth our country needs.”