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Updates: Missouri Tax, VA State Licensing, Yoga and Religion in America

in Business of Yoga, YD News
  • aum_stamp_of_approvalMO: [LATimes] “The state, which views the discipline as strictly recreational, has levied a 4% tax on studio owners and instructors. But yogis say their pastime should be exempt as a spiritual pursuit.”

EarlierMissouri Taxes Studios, Texas to Join in Licensing Battle, Everyone Tries to Define Yoga

  • VA: Yesterday there was a Washington Post editorial on the case of VA State vs. Yoga Studios (with teacher training programs). We’ve been keeping an eye on the battle and know that the yoga teachers and studio owners are holding strong against the bureaucratic bullies.

EarlierYoga Teachers Sue VA State: Licensing Debate Gets Hairy

  • Yoga as Spiritual [Yahoo] A Pew Poll suggests yoga is more than a physical practice.

According to the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life, nearly six in 10 Americans from all religions blend their faith with New Age and Eastern beliefs, like astrology, reincarnation, and the spiritual – not just physical – benefits of yoga.

“What we’re really finding here that we haven’t known before is how much Americans mix and match their religious beliefs and practices. That is, how often people who are regular churchgoers also believe in things like astrology and reincarnation,” said Alan Cooperman of the Pew Forum. “Individual Americans hold within themselves elements of diverse religious traditions. And they practice in many cases, more than one faith.”

RelatedUpdate: Victory for NY Yoga Studios! Licensing Shakedown Squashed

7 comments… add one
  • Rock My Soles

    What a shock government trying to tax a upwardly trending industry…

  • while yoga may be a spiritual practice for some, for many it is not. There are traditions out there (like the Ananda community) that have worship services and a clear tradition and belief “system.” Most studios however do not teach in this way. If we want to be excluded from taxes, we would have to act more like churches adhering to the same expectations that government puts on them. I’m not sure that serves us or our students. We can’t have it both ways, I’m afraid, and I don’t think we should. But I agree you can’t (or shouldn’t) group all studios/teachers/traditions under one rule. Each studio would have to decide if it was a “church” or a business, and accept the benefits and limitations of either decision. Perhaps here asteya and satya would be the lenses through which we can discriminate what our real actions and place in this world should be.

  • Well, let’s look at this. As Candice says, you can’t have it both ways.
    I don’t a problem in paying 4% taxes. Many other professionals pay operating taxes to be licensed or in business. Your hair dresser or masseuse? Licensed. The acupuncturist? Licensed. The preschool teacher. Licensed. And all of them also have to pay for business licenses as well. While I don’t like is how states (during an economic upheaval) add on all sorts of fees that greatly affect small businesses… and this is definitely something to keep your eye on. But I wouldn’t go as far as deciding to get out of paying them by claiming my business to be akin to a church or temple.

    Churches have their own set of rules they must adhere to for their tax exempt status. If a yoga instructor were to decide they were a church, then they would have to abide by all of those rules. Any assumption on the part of a yoga teacher that each student is there for spiritual reasons would be presumptuous. Not everyone is there for that, and as you saw on Facebook, many already have their own (and are happy with) deep spiritual beliefs rooted in theology.

    Let’s put it this way: hiring a CPA to ensure your taxes are paid on time and in full is a lot easier than deciding to become a church.

  • it’s an interesting discussion. i agree that yoga shouldn’t be put in there as a “church”… but it seems weird for it to be taxed, too. yeah. um. no good answers.

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