City Desk

Yogis Go Mad Over Proposed Yoga Sales Tax

The peace has temporarily been disrupted in yoga studios throughout the District, as the D.C. Council mulls passing a proposal that would levy a sales tax on gyms, yoga studios, and health clubs.

Although the proposal doesn't just target fitness studios, the tax has been dubbed the "Yoga Tax" by people who oppose it. The Council gave preliminary approval this week to charge the city's 5.75 percent sales tax on services like health clubs and tanning studios that previously haven't been subject to it. The sales tax would also extend to bowling alleys and billiard parlors, barber and beautician services, carpet and upholstery cleaning, car washes, construction contractors, and mini-storage.

In 2010, then-Mayor Adrian Fenty proposed a similar tax on gym services, and hundreds of people rallied against the tax. The tax didn't survive.

Will this one? The industries involved aren't any happier about the proposed tax four years later. Vida Fitness announced that it plans to lobby against the proposal. It told people to contact their councilmembers to say they oppose it. There's a #nodcyogatax Twitter hashtag going around, a Facebook group, and a petition on urging the Council to kill the tax.

On June 3, there's a planned flash mob, in which participants will form a "burpee fence" around the Wilson Building and drop and do eight burpees for the city's eight wards, says Graham King, the owner of Roam Fitness who started the Facebook group, in a post on its page. (FYI, this is a burpee; it's not easy.)

The Council already approved the budget and tax changes on first vote, but will vote on it a second time. If it passes again, it goes to Mayor Vince Gray to sign, and Congress will have to review it before it goes into law.

The #nodcyogatax hasn't yet proven quite as trendy as the one the local football team started yesterday, but here are a few of the tweets that were sent out in the last day:

Photo of yoga via Shutterstock

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  1. jemalling of dc

    is betsy poos a real name?

    we'll tax the pennies on your eyes.

  2. #2

    Isn't this proposal just removing a special tax exemption for gyms that other businesses have to pay? This article makes it sound like gyms and yoga studios are getting targeted with a special tax, when I believe this just makes them pay sales tax like everyone else. The fact is that gyms and yoga studios these days are luxuries for the middle and upper classes. You don't need to have a fancy gym membership to be healthy and it should be taxed like everything else.

  3. #3

    You call that a burpee? Try

    It's a little galling to see CrossFit gyms complain about taxes. I mean, of course they complain; they're all a bunch of insane upper-middle-class libertarians, but they also charge upwards of $150 per month for gyms with no machines.

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