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‘Yoga Tax’ Approved in DC, Makes Yoga More Expensive and Beer More Accessible

in YD News
Yoga Tax protesters in Washington. | Lance Rosenfield/Prime

Yoga Tax protesters in Washington. | Lance Rosenfield/Prime

A new budget plan that would add 5.75 percent sales tax to fitness centers including yoga studios in Washington D.C. was approved Monday despite veto efforts from Mayor Vincent Gray.

Gray vetoed the $12.64-billion spending plan on July 11, but that didn’t hold against the D.C. Council who voted for the new plan 12-1. Gray, who’s in lame duck pose, expressed his disappointment in a statement saying that the council “did not see fit to work with me to craft a reasonable compromise that serves the best interest of District residents.” Perhaps he was referring to the yoga and fitness folks, not only those who offer the services but those who will now have to pay a bit more to use them.

While the spending plan seems to have (eventually) been approved with flying colors, there’s been a grand swell of opposition from the yoga community as well as gym owners who took to social media and Change.org to stop the bill from passing. Even Yoga Alliance joined in the opposition, citing the longterm costs of making yoga more cost prohibitive and less accessible to everyone, and pointing out that other services like construction firms, beauty salons, and spas located in corporate-owned hotels, as well as other health care services are exempt.

Taxing yoga = taxing essential healthcare. Washington, D.C. does not tax essential health care services — like doctor visits, medications and medical procedures. It should similarly exempt essential preventative health care services — like yoga and fitness — that keep people healthy in the first place.

The bill also put the kibosh on a proposed streetcar system, but left in place special permission for District breweries to, for the first time, allow customers to purchase and drink beer while visiting their facilities. So how do you deal with rising costs of yoga and easier access to local beer? Why, brewery yoga, of course! See? Problem solved.



7 comments… add one
  • Angie

    Here’s an alternate view on the increased sales tax, which do not target yoga studio’s specifically but increase sales taxes across a broad range of services: http://www.dcfpi.org/sales-tax-on-services-helps-provide-tax-reductions-for-most-dc-residents

    The tax cuts included in this plan will benefit moderate and low income D.C. residents as well as including tax breaks for small businesses, including yoga studios.

    For those who aren’t familiar with D.C. local politics, this law might seem strange and anti-health, but in fact such sales taxes exist in 22 states across the country. D.C. has some very real political and economic disparities. There is a SEVERE affordable housing and homelessness crisis in D.C.. I cannot in good conscious object to a sales tax that will help keep some suburban D.C./Maryland/Viriginia money IN the district itself and that targets middle and upper class folks (those who are presently accessing the majority of yoga in D.C. if we’re being very honest).

    Part of the reason so few low-income people practice yoga in our nation’s capital is because D.C. is sadly lacking in non-profit and even donation-based yoga. There are few to no yoga teachers offering yoga to individuals and populations who cannot or will not access studio-based yoga (e.g. youth in high school, hospital patients, detention facilities, shelters, etc). When I see the D.C. yoga community step up their practice of karma yoga, I will take more seriously their objections to paying what amounts to less than a coffee more for yoga. Until then, I support taxes on services which is a less regressive sales tax than those on goods/services.

    • James

      Angie, that’s one of the most thoughtful posts (article or comment) I’ve ever seen on this website.

    • VQ2

      In fact, in theory a tax on commercialized yoga has to be a progressive sales tax by definition … same as when health clubs in New York state used to be taxed across the board …

    • nelliebelle1197

      Your fellow Angie salutes your comments. Lovely and thoughtful. Thank you.

  • quiksilver

    Here’s another alternate view on the increased sales tax: it goes after the very people who are exploiting yoga for personal gain. Karma, if you will. Can’t say that I didn’t see this coming a mile away. Perhaps it will thin the herd of 200RYT schools who are churning out a glut of #instragram yoga nincompoops.

    • VQ2

      Yup. What comes around goes around. About damn time!

  • Licious

    Curious to know how much the government officials behind this were paid to make this happen… Luckily for all of us, there’s an awesome app called “GreenHouse” which lets us see what kinds of lobbying dollars were spent when things like this happen. Would be nice to see what the REAL cost is to buy a law..!

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