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Massage Today
September, 2003, Vol. 03, Issue 09

New Ohio State Service Tax Includes Massage Therapy

By Rebecca J. Razo

On Aug 1, 2003, the state of Ohio officially expanded the scope of practice of massage therapy to include tax collection. Earlier this summer, Ohio Governor Bob Taft signed House Bill 95 into law, which among other things, increased the state's sales tax base to 6 percent and expanded its provisions to include a number of services not previously taxed, including massage therapy.

Revised Code (RC) Section 5739.01(B)(3)(r) of the bill requires the collection of sales tax on "personal care services." Listed within this category alongside massage therapy are "skin care; the application of cosmetics; manicuring; pedicuring; hair removal; tattooing; body piercing; tanning ...

and other similar services." Massage therapy performed and/or prescribed by a physician is exempt.1

New Ohio massage therapist Joe Reel is concerned the tax will have a negative impact on the profession. "Tacking a sales tax onto an already expensive service will cause a large number of people to think that massage is a luxury they can do without. Many potential clients will be turned off by paying $53.75 instead of a usual flat rate of $50, $60 or $70," he said. Reel also expressed concern over the financial impact the tax could have on individual massage therapists, "The new tax [could] come directly out of our tips."2

Others are less concerned. "I am in a forgiving mood, knowing that the state budget crisis was large and that it's no easy thing for a politician to increase taxes these days," reflected J. Fred Spack, an Ohio massage therapist licensed for 21 years. Still, Spack acknowledges that somebody will indeed feel the pinch. "Now my consideration is to decide whether to increase my fees to clients or take the 6.75 percent tax as a gouge out of my income," he said.3

The law requires massage therapists to obtain a vendor's license from the county in which they practice; however, therapists practicing in multiple counties must apply for a transient vendor's license from the state. Additionally, therapists are required to remit taxes monthly, quarterly or semi-annually depending on their circumstances, and are strongly encouraged to maintain business records documenting which clients are exempt from paying the tax.4,5,6

A massage therapist also could face a potentially awkward situation involving the sales and redemption of gift certificates: Sales tax is not collected when a gift certificate is purchased, but when it is presented as payment.

It remains to be seen if this law in Ohio will set any precedent around the country for the massage profession. Look for updates on this and other related issues in future editions of Massage Today.


  1. Ohio Department of Taxation. Information Release, Draft, Personal Care Services.
  2. E-mail from Joe Reel, August 6, 2003.
  3. E-mail from J. Fred Spack, August 12, 2003.
  4. Ohio Department of Taxation. Tax Facts, July 22, 2003.
  5. The State Medical Board of Ohio Massage Therapy Subweb, FAQ.
  6. AMTA-Ohio Chapter Web Site,


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