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New tax burns tanning salons

10 percent hike takes effect Thursday across the country
By: Bridget Jones, Journal Staff Writer
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A new tax on tanning has salon owners feeling hot and bothered about the government’s attention. As part of the support of the $940 billion health care overhaul, the federal government has imposed a 10 percent tax on indoor tanning salons. The tax is expected to help generate $2.7 billion dollars over 10 years. Tiffany Yeo-Meeker, assistant manager of California Tan on Grass Valley Highway in Auburn, said it’s not fair that the tax is only for indoor salons. “I think it is important that people understand that this tax is to fund the (President) Obama health care bill that the public did not vote into place,” Yeo-Meeker said. “Also that, conveniently, doctors who use indoor tanning to treat psoriasis, eczema, acne and other conditions are exempt from this tax.” The tax, which goes into effect Thursday, only applies to electronic tanning beds. Alicia Sciscio, manager of Amazing Tans in Rocklin, said other businesses the government was considering taxing are far more risky than tanning. “I would say that I found (the tax) unnecessary,” Sciscio said. “It was bracketed in there with Botox, which is much more harmful than tanning in my eyes. Really I just found it contradicting.” The 10 percent tax is replacing a proposed 5 percent tax on cosmetic surgery. Sciscio said there are many benefits to tanning, including Vitamin D exposure and treatment for the skin condition Psoriasis. A lot of customers are angry about the tax, Sciscio said. “Throughout our company we’ve been warning our customers, and the customer reactions, they’ve been unhappy,” she said. “They think it’s ridiculous. We aren’t raising our prices but it will seem like it because of the tax.” Jason Rankin, manager of Sun Kiss Tanning in Roseville, said he thinks the tax is akin to the government discouraging people from tanning. “I’m kind of disappointed in it personally,” Rankin said. “It just feels like the government is telling you what you can and cannot do.” Rankin said his salon runs on tanning schedules. When customers are new they have the shortest amount of tanning time, so they don’t get too much exposure. With the new tax, customers may try to tan outside or at the beach and not follow any set schedule, putting them at risk, Rankin said. “It just seems like someone is going to go outside, and what is your schedule outside?” Rankin asked. “You are going to go until you get burned is what most people do. I personally believe in moderation. You have to do everything in moderation.” Rankin said most of his older clientele were upset that the tax was imposed, but weren’t angry at the salon itself for having to enforce the tax. “I think they are more upset with the government allowing it to go through rather than anything,” he said. Sciscio said she thinks the new tax could reduce the number of clients at her salon. “I think it has a great possibility to, even though it’s only a 10 percent tax, that does add up,” Sciscio said. Yeo-Meeker said she hopes her salon can keep its income up as the tax goes into effect. “Tanning salons were specifically targeted, and we at California Tan are hoping that other non-taxed services like spray tanning, water massage and red light therapy will help supplement the loss of people cutting back due to this tax.” Rankin said the majority of his customers have said they don’t plan to cut back on tanning. “I have been making my customers aware of it and after speaking to 300 people … I’d say two wouldn’t tan with (the tax) being (in place),” Rankin said. “Everybody else didn’t care.” Foresthill resident Kathleen Green said she isn’t sure if she would cut back on tanning or not. “I don’t use it on a regular basis anyway; I just do it a little bit,” Green said. “So, it depends on how much it raises the cost. I would like to do it more in the winter. It helps with depression and that kind of thing.” Green said she thinks if something had to be taxed, it should have been both cosmetic surgery and tanning. “I wouldn’t tax either item, but personally if they are going to tax them, which they are going to do anyway, they should split it,” she said. Reach Bridget Jones at bridgetj@goldcountrymedia.com