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That golden glow may cost more.... Health care bill adds 10 percent tanning tax

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While North Dakota charges no taxes on tanning services, the health reform bill adds a 10 percent tax to tanning-related services, slated to take effect July 1.

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Some involved in the tanning industry say they were not notified of the additional tax and have yet to receive information on how it will be implemented.

"There was no outreach to the industry, there was no hearings, there was no information gathering, there was no nothing," said John Overstreet, executive director of the Indoor Tanning Association. "It's a classic case of what's wrong with Washington."

Overstreet said a recent recession has already affected the industry and the new tax will take another toll, but to what extent is unknown.

"Think about it, you raise prices 10 percent ... you lose business," Overstreet said. "How much and who, it will vary."

One local tanning professional has similar concerns.

"It may hurt a little bit just because the economy is not good for anyone right now," said Annette Donnan, owner of Exotic Tan & Travel on State Avenue in Dickinson. "Will people be upset? Sure, I'm sure they will. Will I have to readjust my prices? Probably."

However, implementation of the tax remains a mystery.

"Nobody knows. Who knows?" Overstreet said. "No one has thought this out. They don't know a thing about the industry."

Donnan said though the tax's implementation is unclear, it may be charged per tanning package or session.

"They're going to get it no matter what, it sounds like," Donnan said.

The tax initiative is expected to generate $2.7 billion over ten years, according to www.money.cnn.com.

Overstreet said the tax will be collected from the consumer and paid by the business quarterly.

Donnan feels the tax is similar to those imposed on tobacco and alcohol, stepping into the realm of personal choice.

"People choose to tan indoors versus spending time outside," Donnan said. "I think that's a personal call. Is it going to help keep people from tanning? No, I don't think it will at all."

Amid controversy surrounding the bill, more than 10 attorneys general filed suit in federal court Tuesday, claiming the health care bill is unconstitutional.

Don Canton, spokesman for Gov. John Hoeven, said while Hoeven feels health care reform was needed, the most recent bill is not the right one.

In a statement issued Monday, North Dakota Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem said he has been conducting research into the pursuit of a Constitutional challenge to the legislation and Hoeven agrees it needs to be looked into.

While the health care overhaul reconciliation bill is not finalized with the Senate, the version passed Sunday by the U.S. House of Representatives contains several taxes which are still being deciphered.

"If there are deductions that are going to be reduced, it's going to raise a person's federal taxable income, which could translate into higher taxes both at the federal and state level and of course with these excise taxes, if they're going to increase the cost to the business ... those industries are going to have to pass that cost onto someone," said State Tax Commissioner Cory Fong. "It's going to be the consumer."

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