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April 2014

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Oconomowoc salon owner says Obamacare tanning tax forces her to close

Town of Oconomowoc - A clause in the Affordable Care Act, popularly known as Obamacare, has led to one local business shutting down, and is also affecting others.

Rio Tan, formerly on Brown Street, decided to close after the presidential election, said owner Marijo Rislov.

"When Obama defeated Romney in the election, I knew Obamacare would be upheld. In Obamacare there is a 10-percent tanning tax," she explained.

The tax was added to healthcare reform in place of an originally proposed 5-percent tax on Botox and cosmetic surgery referred to as "Botax."

Rislov said the tax made a significant difference in her business. She said she was making only a 10-percent profit at Rio Tan, "so Obama was getting 100 percent of my proceeds." Rislov said that instead of passing along the burden to her customers, she decided it was time to forego the tanning salon venture.

While Rislov said the tanning tax was enough to close up shop, Mary Beth Feider, who owns Jennifer & Co Tanning Spa on East Wisconsin Avenue in Oconomowoc, said she took over ownership of her business just as the tanning tax was implemented, so it's something that's always been there for her.

"I think people don't mind paying it. It's the same as a tax on cigarettes and alcohol," said Feider.

Feider said she also offers tanning at relatively low prices to attract customers and help offset the tax.

"You can tan pretty inexpensively with specials. We offer month specials like tanning for as little as 28 cents a minute," said Feider.

But Jason Ripp, co-owner of Tropitana Tanning Salon on Main Street, Oconomowoc, agreed with Rislov that the tanning tax has taken a toll on businesses.

"We saw right away that a lot of salons in the area shut down because of that, but for us when they closed we got customers looking for another place," said Ripp.

Ripp agreed that the tax cuts into profits. He said the salon tries to make up for it in other ways. "We try to sell more products because that's only a 5-percent tax. So we'll give away free tanning if you buy so many products," he said.

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