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Sports & Fitness Industry Association (SFIA) Strongly Opposes D.C. Gym Tax

Date: 6/25/14

SILVER SPRING, MD – June 25, 2014 – Washington D.C. City Council members approved a city sales tax on gym memberships and yoga classes for the first time earlier this week in a 9-4 vote among the council’s 13 members. D.C.-area based Sports & Fitness Industry Association (SFIA), has strongly opposed the tax as the association views it as a barrier to physical activity.

“At a time when preventable chronic diseases are on the rise due to sedentary lifestyles and obesity, it is unfortunate the D.C. Council decided to move forward on taxing healthy behavior,” said Bill Sells, SFIA Vice President of Government & Public Affairs.  “With healthcare costs continuing to climb at unprecedented rates, we should be incentivizing healthy behavior via increased physical activity, not charging those who are being proactive and responsible about their physical well-being.”  
As part of the fiscal year 2015 budget, the 5.75% tax, also known as the “Yoga Tax” or “Wellness Tax” is projected to generate roughly $5 million yearly. An average gym membership would go from $70 a month to $74. 
In a letter to Council Chairman Phil Mendelson, Mayor Vincent Gray publicly opposed the tax, “I do not support a tax on healthier living. Whatever modest amount of additional revenue we take in in the short term, we will end up paying far more in the long run if we tax fitness.”
“The World Health Organization reported that every $1 invested in physical activity in the U.S. will reduce future medical spending $3.20, by taxing health club memberships D.C. is in essence discouraging physical activity and will not realize the economic benefits it would from healthier, active residents,” concluded Sells.
On Wednesday, the Washington Post print edition featured an entire section dedicated to health and wellness, titled Health Beyond Health Care.

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