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Oconomowoc salon owner says Obamacare tanning tax forces her to close

March 11, 2013

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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Weekend Happenings

Featured this week:  

Delafield Block Party: 5 p.m.-12 a.m. July 10, 11, Downtown Delafield. Festival features food and music plus specialty brews and wine. Friday entertainment is The Orphans and The Toys. Saturday hear Up All Night and Rhythm Method. www.chamber.visitdelafield.org

Lake Country Art Festival: 9 a.m. July 11, Naga-Waukee Park, 651 State Road 83, Delafield. The Lake Country Art Festival features more than 100 juried artists from jewelry, paintings, photography, fiber crafts and metal artists. Children’s activities tent, silent auction, entertainment and food services provided by Delafield Brewhaus. There is a $5 donation per carload for parking with all money raised going to local charities and scholarships to graduating seniors.

Sussex Lions Days: July 10-12, Sussex Village Park. Annual event features carnival rides, live music, sport tournaments, sheepshead tournament, bingo, food and beverage booths, pony and camel rides and tractor pull. Fireworks Friday night. Parade at 10:30 a.m. Sunday. www.sussexlions.org

Annual Oconomowoc Arts Center Open House: 6 p.m. July 11, Oconomowoc Arts Center, 641 E. Forest St., Oconomowoc. Tom Klubertanz and Andy Zietlow will entertain visitors. Free brats, burgers and hot dogs. Local dance and community service groups will be on hand in the lobby with informational tables. Check out the 2015-16 season line up and take advantage of discounts for early ticket purchases.

Updates to this calendar are made weekly Monday afternoon. 

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