NC Continues Considering Sales Tax for Spa Services


North Carolina lawmakers are still considering taxing a broad variety of everyday services, ranging from car repairs to spa services in order to help bridge a budget gap. Many spa and salon owners are outraged, including Felicia Brown, a spa consultant and trainer for Spalutions!

When this issue first came up, Brown urged spa and salon owners, individual estheticians, nail technicians and cosmetologists to research how much more this could affect services and business. Brown also passed along this note from Ed Sansbury, North Carolina president of the American Massage Therapy Association (AMTA).

Many of you may be keeping up with the legislature's consideration to begin collecting sales tax on certain services in North Carolina. Randolph and I have been checking on this. Thanks to some quick action on his part, I was able to make contact with the Office for Tax Counsel for the Senate. It appears from our conversation that the Senate finance committee is leaning toward exempting 'therapeutic massage' but taxing other services considered more pleasurable only. My impression was that 'therapeutic' would mean referred by a doctor or other health care provider. The following are points I sought to make:

  • ALL licensed massage therapists in NC are in section 90 and are referred to as 'licensed health care providers.' The places they work do not determine that status. Apparently many in the legislature think there is a distinction.
  • It would not be fair to tax massage therapists unless they chose to do the same to all North Carolina providers in section 90. In North Carolina, individuals seeking physical therapy do not have to have a doctor recommendation and therefore individuals seeking massage should not be bound by that either.
  • Because there are many 'spas' that offer medical service, the name of a location does not determine if the services offered are therapeutic or not.

These are the points I can remember from our discussion. Even though the main consideration at this time appears to be in the Senate, I would strongly encourage all of you to contact the individuals in the Senate and on the finance committees and encourage them to treat us the same as all other health care professionals in secton 90. I am attaching their contact information for your convenience. Right now the talk is still in committee. It would be much better to stop it there than let it get in a bill and go to the Senate for consideration. I plan to contact all the AMTA-NC members with an e-blast ASAP. We need to let the legislators hear from as many therapists as possible on this matter. Thanks for your efforts.

Log on to the North Carolina legislature. You can find out who represents you simply by providing the 9-digit zipcode shown on your driver's license.

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