D.C. Council approves “yoga tax” for fiscal year 2015

A shiver ran down the spines of basic bitches throughout the District when the D.C. Council voted to institute a 5.75 percent sales tax on health clubs last week. The tax, which has been dubbed the “yoga tax,” also affects home consumption of water, household storage, tanning salons, car washes, bowling alleys, carpet and upholstery cleaning, and billiards parlors.

The D.C. Council attempted to enact a similar tax in 2010 in an effort to increase the District’s revenue inflow during the recession. The Council, however, dropped the tax in response to the backlash it received from health enthusiasts and yogis.

This time around, the “yoga tax” has received a similar reaction. Yesterday, protestors gathered outside the Wilson Building and did burpees to show their disdain for the tax. Health clubs have also reached out to their member bases to rally opposition. Roam Fitness founder, Graham King, started a Facebook group protesting the tax. VIDA Fitness sent out an email to its members with the contact information of D.C. Council members, encouraging them to “voice their concerns.”

According to Aaron More, director of operations for VIDA, he does not believe that the tax will result in the gym losing current members but, out of untainted altruism,is concerned that increased cost of gym membership will prevent obese people from joining gyms. In a statement to DCist,he called the tax “one more reason for them not to get active.”

Opponents of the tax feel blindsided by the it because the proposal was released less than 24 hours before Wednesday’s vote, giving the public little time to react. Dustin Canter, head coach for Routeam, a fitness tech firm, told the Post that the yoga tax was completely unanticipated. “We want to be able to know a lot of these things well in advance, and not a lot of us have the dollars to hire a lobbyist,” Canter said.

According to Council Chairman Phil Mendelson, the proposal was included in the tax commission’s recommendations, which were released last December. “The burden is on the public to pay attention to what we’re doing,” he said.

According to Mendelson, the D.C. Council adopted the tax at the recommendation of the Tax Revision Commission, whose other recommendations included a decrease in D.C. income taxes. “The best time to broaden the base is when you’re cutting taxes,” Mendelson said in a statement to the Post. “We’re more than lowering the tax burden for D.C. residents.”

Photo: daveynin via Flickr

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