Washington, D.C. Council mulling over a sales tax on gyms, yoga studios

posted at 4:41 pm on May 30, 2014 by Erika Johnsen

Progressives are fans of arguing that “sin” taxes on things like cigarettes and sugary beverages are a great idea because they not only discourage unhealthy behaviors that can lead to lung cancer and obesity, but that they save the public money on healthcare costs while boosting revenue at the same time. In other words, they readily recognize that when you tax something, you usually get less of it.

So, this would be… what? A “virtue” tax, levied in these uncertain times of egregiously expanding public healthcare costs? Via the DCist:

As part of a vote on the fiscal year 2015 budget, the Council approved several recommendations from the Tax Revision Commission, including some that will cut taxes for many D.C. residents.

Also approved was the so-called “yoga tax” — a 5.75 percent sales tax on “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.” That tax, which first was considered in 2010, was part of the commission recommendations published months ago. But its adoption in a budget that appeared 18 hours before the first Council vote seems to have blindsided many, a claim Council Chair Phil Mendelson addressed thusly: “The burden is on the public to pay attention to what we’re doing.”

…How nice. The Council is arguing that they are merely removing these products and services from the list of things that are exempted from a sales tax and that this is part of a broader package of overall tax cuts that will eventually lower a lot of residents’ taxes over the next several years. The final vote isn’t until June, but they certainly snuck the so-called “yoga tax” into the first round of voting beneath the radar at the last minute. When the idea was first proposed back in 2010, there was a major and well-organized backlash against it from the city’s considerable fitness community, and it sounds like they were deliberately trying to circumvent a repeat scenario — and this is all going down just after the D.C. Council approved a one-percent tax on insurance plans to help pay for ObamaCare earlier this month, by the way. I’m just glad I don’t live there.


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Bye!

coolrepublica on May 30, 2014 at 4:44 PM

Do it and make it big so it prices out the riff raff.

Utopia is just a few more taxes away folks.

Murphy9 on May 30, 2014 at 4:49 PM

In other words, they readily recognize that when you tax something, you usually get less of it.

Which is why they try so desperately to tax financial success. Why don’t they just put a 10% tax on all campaign contributions, or at least all bribes and kickbacks. Those streets would be paved with goldbricking unionized city workers in no time.

trubble on May 30, 2014 at 4:50 PM

Couldn’t happen to a better place.

BKeyser on May 30, 2014 at 4:53 PM

Washington, D.C. Council mulling over a sales tax on gyms, yoga studios

Folks deserve what they get for who they vote for and the rest of us deserve it for putting up with it.

No sympathy, outrage nor even schadenfreude from me on these taxation issues.

Dr. ZhivBlago on May 30, 2014 at 4:53 PM

Voters, especially those inclined to vote (D) for Marxist, will not learn unless/until their big government programs come back around to bite them HARD in their wallets.

So Libs, you get what you vote for. Might want to check with those wealthy folks that are fleeing France in droves if you need any more convincing.

Meople on May 30, 2014 at 5:00 PM

aka yuppie tax is how they call things like this

uatu1878 on May 30, 2014 at 5:01 PM

It’s clear what this is. A tax on the “rich.”

There are not a whole lot of gyms, tanning studios, or yoga studios in the un-gentrified areas of DC but tons of them in the area that are thriving with professionals. This is essentially a racist tax since it targets the whites living in the city. For equity the city would have to levy a tax on fried chicken restaurants and the other types of businesses you’d find in the unimproved parts of DC.

Happy Nomad on May 30, 2014 at 5:05 PM

So now Algore will be giving some of his carbon credit bucks to the taxman if he wants his second chakra released.

whatcat on May 30, 2014 at 5:06 PM

This will go a long way in the fight on obesity. What does junk-in-the-trunk Mooshelle say about that?

rjoco1 on May 30, 2014 at 5:14 PM

This will go a long way in the fight on obesity. What does junk-in-the-trunk Mooshelle say about that?

rjoco1 on May 30, 2014 at 5:14 PM

The people in DC with gym memberships are going to shut up and pay. They are largely young professionals living in the newly hip areas that once were blighted neighborhoods. The places the money will go are for programs and constituencies that don’t do gyms or Yoga.

DC is becoming less and less a black enclave. There is a remote but real chance that an openly gay white independent will beat out the Dems nominee to be mayor. And even if that doesn’t happen the reality is that the demographics of the city are changing. I can easily see a time when there is a voter revolt over these targeted taxes on the working class in the city in order to pay for the many many parasites who dwell in the less prosperous parts of DC.

Happy Nomad on May 30, 2014 at 5:20 PM

I’m surprised the dictators on the DC council don’t introduce a ‘double-secret 10% tax’ on everything.

After all, if ‘the public doesn’t pay attention’, who could it hurt?

GarandFan on May 30, 2014 at 5:51 PM

a 5.75 percent sales tax on “water consumption for home

So they want less drinking of water in the home?

Patriot Vet on May 30, 2014 at 6:02 PM

Not sure how this is a tax on yoga. I teach yoga, and the physical/studio portion of the practice of yoga is just one part of the 8 limbs of an overall spiritual practice – which is tax exempt. The physical practice is meant to calm the mind and prepare the body for sitting for long periods of meditation, chanting mantras, satsang (group spiritual practice and study).

Unfortunately, they’ve chosen the poorest (yoga teachers – I make about $30/class) who likely cannot afford to challenge the statute in court to prove they are not “health clubs.”

Dicks.

Lance Corvette on May 30, 2014 at 10:12 PM

Wouldn’t this be a tax on liberals especially in yoga studios?

paulus1 on June 1, 2014 at 9:23 AM