Doctor Visits, Oil Changes, Bowling Could Be Taxed

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Bowling is one service -- along with things like child care, doctor visits and oil changes -- that could be taxed.

A five percent service sales tax would mean bowlers like Don Bidinger would pay an extra 18 cents a game.

"I think it's all right," Bidinger said. "It wouldn't hurt me."

But the man behind the counter at Royal Scot in Lansing says it could hurt his business.

"If I had to add several percent [in taxes] to my bowling, I would lose a few of my bowlers," General Manager Paul Kwiecien said.

Kwiecien says that's because the tax can add up. A bowler who bowls four games a night, twice a week, 30 weeks a year could pay close to $50 a year just in bowling taxes.

The tax would likely only apply to consumers, not to the services one business buys from another.

Still, a new tax would add to pressure put on businesses by minimum wage hikes, Kwiecien says. And he adds, he's worried how services connected with tourism would cope.

"Fishing, golfing, skiing, boating, everything. If it's more expensive to go here than another state, what's to stop people from going somewhere else," Kwiecien said.

Some backers of an expanded sales tax say it's a matter of basic fairness. If you tax things like going out to eat, or buying clothes, it just makes sense to tax services like haircuts.

But some who are in the business of cutting hair don't see it that way.

"We pay enough as it is," barber Alfredo Perrelli said.

Perrelli says the state shouldn't fix the deficit with a tax on working people. But economists say the sales tax is actually progressive, because wealther folks buy more expensive things and pay more tax as a result.

Up the street at another barber shop, Ron Duncan told us he wouldn't mind paying a bit more for his trim.

"There's been enough cutting of services lately anyway," he said.

Consumers and business owners could hear if an expanded sales tax will be used to avoid cutting services in the governor's state of the state address in a couple of weeks.