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Tanning Tax Confusion

I've received a few phone calls and e-mails about the tanning tax that goes into effect on July 1. It seems that a lot of club operators who offer tanning services have not been contacted by the IRS about the tax.

Today, I spoke to Eric Smith in the media relations office of the IRS, and I asked him how they know which facilities offer tanning services. He said that the service often has to be registered with the state, so they will be working with state governments to get the word out to the appropriate companies. They are notifying accountants about the change, so a club owner's accountant should also make him or her aware of the change.

"This law was only passed three weeks ago," he said. "We're trying to implement it as quickly as possible."

Smith also said that unlike many excise taxes where businesses must pay them to the government within days of collecting the taxes, this tax is paid just quarterly. The 720 form that operators must use to turn in the taxes is used for a variety of excise taxes, so a lot of the form doesn't apply to this tax. The IRS will revise the form at some point, he said.

The tax is not payable on products—the tanning service charge itself should be separated out from any products also sold, he said.

More details and answers to often-asked questions are available on the IRS website.

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