It’s baaaack. A “Yoga Tax” proposal that was dropped four years ago looks likely to be passed in Washington D.C. very soon. The new bill, which received initial approval Wednesday, would add 5.75% sales tax to services like “water consumption for home, storage of household goods/mini storage, carpet and upholstery cleaning, health clubs and tanning studios, car washes, and bowling alleys and billiard parlors,” thus including yoga studios (we assume under the “health club” part, not the upholstery.) Though it includes all those other types of services, it’s been dubbed the “Yoga Tax” by the loudest group of opposition.
To protest the potential sales tax, which would kick in starting January 2015, people have taken to the internet using the #nodcyogatax hashtag on Twitter, starting a group on Facebook (now with almost 600 members), and a petition on Change.org calling for the Council to drop the bill.
Meanwhile, in an awkward coincidence, D.C. was just named as America’s Fittest City. Perhaps council members should take note.
The “yoga tax” is part of the 2015 budget plan which would actually cut taxes for many D.C. residents (which they won’t see for another five years). But opposers are upset it was announced only 18 hours before the first vote, giving the public no time to understand or address it, to which Council Chair Phil Mendelson responded: “The burden is on the public to pay attention to what we’re doing.”
And so the D.C. fitness community, including yoga studios, have been quick to get the information out there, to educate the public asap and voice their opposition.
Aaron Moore, director of operations for VIDA Fitness criticized the tax for building a greater obstacle for people who want to exercise. He told dcist:
“At it’s most basic level, to really simplify it, the more people that are healthy, and the more people that have gym memberships, the more money it saves D.C.,” he said. “You want to incentivize people to do it. And you don’t incentivize people to do things by levying taxes and making things more expensive.”
Capitol Hill Yoga acknowledged, via their June newsletter, that the sales tax would only amount to a small increase in class costs, but noted that it still makes a difference.
Although we know paying $0.69 more for your drop-in yogahour class or $1.04 more for your drop-in CHY Classic class will not keep most of you away, it does serve to create a deeper divide for those not currently able to pay for yoga and gym services while taxing your choice to live an active, healthy lifestyle.
CHY Owners Betsy and Stacey encourage everyone to use social media and the petition as well as good old fashioned letter writing and phone calls to D.C. City Council Chairman Phil Mendelson & your Council member to voice your opposition.
Earlier today, Graham King (founder of Roam Fitness who started the Facebook group) hosted a “Burpee Protest” in front of the offices of the Mayor and Council. As he shared on the Facebook group page, his stance remains:
We just finished our demonstration. Lots of reporters.
The point I continue to make: it’s not just about fitness. It’s about fairness. Should a select few businesses pay for a broad tax relief for some? And shouldn’t the public have more notice than 18 hours to respond?
In 2010, the Mayor-at-the-time Adrian Fenty had proposed a similar tax, but due to a swath of opposers it didn’t make it. It’s hard to say what will happen this time around.
Continued reading: Objections to D.C. Council’s package of tax changes mount
image via facebook
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