Odd Services Will Raise Nearly $50 Million

By: Beth Shayne Email
By: Beth Shayne Email

"The empress," Dawne Coe observes in her tarot cards, turning then each over one-by-one.

"The governor had a lot to do with it," she says of the budget process.

Reading tarot cards for guidance on such things will cost the new age taxpayer an extra 6 percent. It's one of many new age services, including psychic readings, phrenology, and fortune telling taxed under the new plan.

Coe, owner of the Triple Goddess New Age Bookstore, calls it a rush decision. She sees a burden for her business in the stars.

"This feels complicated and bulky," she says. "We are already paying and tipping and now we are going to get taxed."

Though the bulk of the new service tax will be raised by taxing consulting, office administration, janitorial services, and landscaping, the range of services is broad, and sometimes strange.

Across the service spectrum from astrology, the tanning world is angry too.

"The legislature is trying to cure its ills on the backs of small businesses," Sarah Munkacsy says. She questions why tanning, and not golf, for instance.

"We are not only gonna tax our customers-- That's going to hurt--but the services we use? We are going to have to pay taxes on," Munkacsy says.

Kitty Dowding, owner of Living Art Tattoo Parlor, is angry too. "They're still gonna get tattooed but they are not going to be happy about it--and I'm not either."

Also on the list are "coin-operated photographic materials services," also known as photo booths. Also, coin-operated personal services are taxed, like condoms and tampons.

Among the most strange? Singing telegrams.

"It'll affect the bottom line, but it doesn't take much to effect the bottom line of the short dwarf," Dandy Black laughs. You may recognize his company from the car with bumper stickers he drives around town. Monday, he has a musical message for the governor.

"When you take our pennies, we're blue," he sings, to the tune of the famous "We Love You Conrad."

In fact, he says the state will make squat off of his service. "Nowadays, we're doing maybe 3 a month."

He's joking too when he predicts it's impact on the economy with self-deprecating humor. "I'm not sure that this tax is going to be conducive to growth in the state of Michigan," he laughs--a jab at his small stature.

Other odd services include baby shoe bronzing, bail bonding, balloon-o-grams, and shoeshines.

All but tattoos and tanning are categorized as "other personal services" with an estimated revenue of $48.2 million. The total estimated revenue from the service tax for 2008 is $613.8 million.

Tattoos and tanning, as well as manicures, facials, massages, and non-medical diets fall under personal care. That category is estimated to raise $14.1 million.


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