PORTLAND, Maine — Psychics are paid to peer into the future, but few local clairvoyants saw this one in the tea leaves: Tucked into Gov. Paul LePage’s proposed budget is a 5.5 percent tax on psychic readings.
The new line item, which includes tarot card readings, astrology, reflexology and palm readings, is among several personal services that may come with a new tax next year.
At Leapin’ Lizards on Forest Avenue in Portland, medium Kathleen Stone was not amused.
“It’s an absolute surprise to me. I am appalled over it. We work for ourselves. We are not employees of other businesses,” Stone, an independent contractor who shares a percentage of her profits with the store owner, said.
Stone worries that clients may think twice about seeking guidance on health, wealth and happiness if they have to pay more for it.
David Heidrich, director of communications for the Department of Administrative and Financial Services, who helped craft the proposed 2018-19 budget, said the change reflects “the shift of our goods-based economy to services provided to the public.”
Psychics would join other professionals, including event planners, travel agents and hairdressers, who provide personal services subject to a new tax.
LePage characterizes the initiative as a way to “modernize” the sales tax base, Heidrich said. If passed, “this will allow the state to have a more stable revenue stream and not rely on retail products that are the first to be hit during an economic downturn,” he said.
But consumers already paying sales, lodging, food and liquor taxes in Maine may balk at extra charges when they opt to have their palms read, some industry professionals say.
“It would be a shame to tax one more thing. As Mainers, we are heavily taxed,” Melissa Ellsworth, the owner of psychic shops Leapin’ Lizards in Portland and Freeport, said. “To put taxes on this as well would be sad to see.”
Leo Knighton Tallarico, an astrologer and director of The Spiritual Renaissance Center in South Portland, said he predicted a year ago that Donald Trump would win the election, but this one threw him for a loop. Hearing about the proposed tax for his services gave him pause.
“That’s terrible. It feels kind of silly to me,” he said.
Stone said she would consider paying the extra charge out of her own pocket, instead of passing it on to her clients.
“I don’t want to do it,” the Old Orchard Beach intuitive healer said. “But I would consider.”