News Story

Cash-Hungry State Turns to Tattoo Parlor Fees for More Money

When Joseph Lash needs to renew the license for each of his three tattoo parlors, it costs him $300 per store and his shops are then set for three years for $900.

But under a bill passed by the Michigan Senate earlier this week, the cost for renewing all of his three parlors for just one year would be $1,500. This means the three-year cost to renew all of his business licenses would jump from $900 to $4,500 if the tattoo tax became law.

"That sucks," said Lash, who owns The Electric Chair tattoo parlors in Flint, Clio and Bay City. "Why do they care about tattoos all of a sudden?"

Lash said business has been slower than four years ago due to the economy. He said tattoos are not part of the essentials in a state with high unemployment.

"This is an 'extra,' " Nash said. "We own three shops. That is a pretty big blow, really. That's pretty crazy."

Senate Bill 1486 passed by a 34-3 vote earlier this week. Senator John Gleason, D-Flushing, sponsored the bill. Republican Senators Mike Nofs, Nancy Cassis and Ron Jelinek voted against it.

The bill still needs to be passed by the House to become law.

An initial three-year license from the state costs $500. After the first three years, it costs $300 to renew the license for three years thereafter. Under the bill, all licenses are renewed annually for $500.

"It's remarkable how quickly a bill can go from introduction to passing the Senate - just 15 days in this case - when it aims at an unsympathetic target from which to extract some extra cash," said Jack McHugh, senior legislative analyst at the Mackinac Center For Public Policy, in an e-mail.

Michigan Capitol Confidential is the news source produced by the Mackinac Center for Public Policy. Michigan Capitol Confidential reports with a free-market news perspective.