Every time a story comes up about government taxing or regulation we’re reminded that, oh yeah, yoga is an industry and it churns out lots of money! (though since it’s in the news every day reminder not so required.) Well, money practically grows on vrksasanas right? So why wouldn’t the government want to tax it!?
Should yoga studios have to pay an extra tax? Should teacher training be government regulated and require state licensing? These are the questions keeping both government officials and yogis up at night. We’ve seen other battles pitting Yogis vs. The State, and significant victories won like in NY and VA over state government regulation and licensing.
Here’s a rundown on the latest:
Gov: Proposed gym and yoga studio tax – 6 to 8 percent.
Yogis: Yogis have taken to the streets in DC in protest! – literally, they rolled out their mats last week in Freedom Plaza during rush hour, toting signs with slogans like “No Taxation on my Sun-Salutation” and ”Money Doesn’t Grow on Tree Pose.”
The consternation rages on in Missouri: Is Yoga Extracurricular or extra-confusingly-non-secular?
Gov: “Although several bills have recently been proposed to exempt yoga from the state’s 4% tax rate, the legislative session ends May 14, so they are unlikely to be approved, said a spokesman for the Missouri House of Representatives.”
Yogis: “I understand the state needs money, but if anyone takes a minute to look at this, they will see that it’s just the wrong thing to do,” said Ken McRae, owner of alleyCat Yoga. “This is against the law. You cannot tax a religion, and by every definition, yoga is a religion.”
Ack. Didn’t anyone tell Ken about the debate?
Though it hasn’t hit the big media news outlets yet, Texas yogis have had their own underground battle brewing against the Texas Workforce Commission over licensing, similar to NY State. Meet the Texas Yoga Association
Gov: “Aware that Houston and other cities were on the target list, Jennifer began assimilating a foundation to stand against regulations. Then, in January 2010, Jenny and many other yoga teachers/studio owners were contacted by the Texas Workforce Commission and given 14 days to respond to their letter to comply as a vocational school or seek exemption.”
Yogis: “On Friday, January 29, 2010, the Houston and Dallas charters of the Texas Yoga Association and legal advisers met with the Texas Workforce Commission in Austin. The purpose of this meeting was to help the Texas Workforce Commission understand how yoga studios operate and the distinction of training programs held at studios from programs offered by vocational schools.”
SO WHO WILL WIN?:
In each case Team Yoga has come out in full force, so we have high hopes. Our suggestion? Take a page from the Yoga for NY playbook. Unite and lobby your little hearts out!
Things we’ve learned:
- Lobbying (and money, unfortunately) works!
- Defining yoga is virtually impossible, and gets increasingly confusing when the government wants to step in, especially in terms of religion and spirituality. Vocation? Avocation? we need a vacation.
Have you heard rumblings in your own state? Let us know!