'Tanning tax' in health care law has business owners burning

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by TIM ROBINSON / KING 5 News

KING5.com

Posted on March 26, 2010 at 8:44 AM

Updated Friday, Mar 26 at 8:45 AM

As Congress continues to finish up the details on the new health care bill, there's a surprising detail about one way the legislation is being paid for: a "sin" tax on the tanning business.

There were the protests against the health care bill, marches in support of it, the political turmoil, and finally the bill signed into law - legislation of historical proportions.

And somewhere in the fine print of that bill are tanning salons. The tanning industry is getting tapped to help fund the health care bill with a new 10 percent tax.

"We were really surprised to find out about it just after Christmas," said Mark Willard, Desert Sun Tanning.

Originally it was going to be cosmetic surgery and Botox treatments that would pay the tax.

"Unfortunately, the AMA and the dermatologists association were able to lobby the Senate to change that from a five percent tax on elective that mostly wealthy people do to now taxing 10 percent on something that mostly middle class people do," said Willard.

Tanning salons are just coming out of a tough time.

"Last year was tough. We felt the hit of the recession, just like all small businesses did," said Willard.

And now, after all the tough talk during the health care battle, the tanning folks say they and their customers are taking another body blow.

"Families, you know, these are people that have invested their life savings into these businesses and that's how they make their living. Unfortunately, now, that tax is going to be passed onto them," said Willard. "It could be very detrimental to their business, and certainly our customers that are going to bear the brunt of this tax."

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