05/10/10 — Businesses worry about tanning tax

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Businesses worry about tanning tax

By Laura Collins
Published in News on May 10, 2010 1:46 PM

The new federal tax on indoor tanning has left some area salon owners heated.

The 10 percent tax was a last-minute addition to the recently passed Health Care Reform Bill and goes into effect July 1. It replaced a previous tax on cosmetic procedures like Botox and certain types of plastic surgery and is expected to raise nearly $2.7 billion in the next 10 years.

Some area salon owners, however, feel they got the short end of the stick. They argue that since they don't have the pull that the cosmetic surgery industry has, since most tanning salons are privately owned small businesses, they were taxed instead.

"I don't think it's right. I think they target indoor tanning because they can," said Richard Yearwood, co-owner of Sunsational Tanning in Goldsboro. "The president put it in the health care bill, and said if we're going to cause cancer, we're going to pay for health care. Well, tell that to people who lay in the sun all day. They aren't being taxed."

Yearwood said he expects the tax to affect his business, which is already down 10-15 percent from last year.

"Tanning is a luxury, not a necessity. People who don't have the money, it's one of those things they're going to cut out," he said.

Yearwood added that the tax, and potential loss of customers, is another factor business owners must address.

"The energy cost went up; my phone bill went up; my water bill went up. It's just one more thing we're going to have to deal with in order to keep the doors open," he said. "I'm a small business owner. I'm a mom and pop. If my shop don't make it, I don't make it. Small businesses that are not chains are more affected than a chain. I don't have another store to (make up the difference)."

James Weisiger, co-owner of Dream Makers Tanning in Goldsboro, agreed the tax could impact business.

"We're definitely not happy about it. I'm pretty sure it's going to affect business to a certain extent," he said. "It's probably going to affect people that might just start skimping on lotion or might start downgrading (their tanning packages)."

He said he doesn't believe the tax will completely shut down tanning salons, however.

"Doing your hair and getting a tan for women is a feel-good thing, and they're going to keep doing it," he said.

Ginger Casey, owner of Bahama Tanning in Goldsboro, said she doesn't think the new tax will turn away customers.

"I don't really think it will affect their business at all. People are just used to paying taxes. I don't think they realized they weren't to begin with," she said.

Sunless tanning options such as spray tan and tanning lotions are not included in the tax.