"Tan Tax" is concerning for local salon owners - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

"Tan Tax" is concerning for local salon owners

WATERLOO (KWWL) -- Starting Thursday, July 1, it will cost you ten percent more to get a summer glow. That is, if you're getting it inside. The IRS is implementing a tanning tax on indoor UV tanning salons. It's part of the federal government's plan to pay for nationwide health care reform.

KWWL called around to several salons. Some are letting their customers know now that their regular tanning session is going to cost them more. Others have not informed their customers, and admitted they're not sure, exactly, how their company is factoring the tax into their tanning packages.

Salon owner Diana McEnroe started informing her customers about the tax increase months ago. She has hundreds of customers who trust her to provide their regular blast of UV light. She'll never say it's safe, but she will argue there are benefits to indoor sun.

"I've spoken with several doctors here in town who were willing to write prescriptions for the people that they've sent me that have eczema, psoriasis, depression," said McEnroe.

Which is one of the reasons she does not agree with people who equate tanning with smoking.

"There are so many actual benefits to tanning compared to smoking."

Preventing cancer is one reason some lawmakers pushed for the so-called "Tan Tax." The tax is also helping them pay for health care reform. But McEnroe believes it unfairly targets business women, who make up nearly 70 percent of salon owners.

"Tanning for a lot of people is a luxury -- that they may not soon be able to afford," she said.

McEnroe is concerned that tacking another ten percent onto a "luxury" expense will force people to cut tanning out of their budget. And, according to an industry survey, nearly three-quarters of salon owners believe it will force them to cut employees, or even close.

"I'm concerned. Like everybody in the economy, everybody's had to tighten their belts up a little bit. I will be very curious to see the effects," said McEnroe.

Another concern many salon owners have is what, and whom, is exempt from the tax. Salons that bundle services, like a monthly unlimited UV tan and a "UV-free" spray tan, will have to figure out what proportion the charge qualifies for the tax. Plus, doctors who use tanning beds in their dermatology practice do not have to charge the ten percent.

Salon owners will also have to file a quarterly federal tax return. Since there is no precedent for this tax, they'll use IRS Form 720, which is primarily for gasoline and diesel fuel taxes.

Online Reporter Colleen O'Shaughnessy

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