Washington D.C. is currently working on a plan that will tax yoga studios, gyms, and other athletic-oriented businesses in an attempt to raise $5 million annually for the city.
Dubbed The Yoga Tax, a movement is growing to fight the District on this plan. Anti-fitness tax groups have launched on Facebook, and petitions have cropped up to encourage council members to oppose the tax.
One of the main protests is the number of services that remain untaxed by the District. Services like day spas, health spas, massage services, and chimney sweeps remain untaxed. Opponents to the yoga tax say it is unfair to tax fitness services and will discourage obese residents of Washington D.C. from getting in shape. (It is estimated 21% of residents in Washington D.C. are obese.)
Small business owners like Keith Moore, owner of Ashtanga Yoga Studio in Northwest D.C. are concerned. Running a small yoga studio with a small clientele is hard enough as it is.
“As a small business owner, I’m going to lose clients,” Moore said. “At some point, somebody will be priced out of the business.” Moore says many of his yoga students are college kids who are living on a fixed income.
“It’s sort of a one-two punch,” said Moore. “You’re likely going to pay higher membership fees, and at the end of the year, when you’re paying taxes, you’re going to be paying taxes to cover the health care cost for those who can’t afford a gym.”
Despite the concerns from small business owners, Council Chairman Phil Mendelson isn’t budging claiming adjustments will be difficult because, “everything is balanced.”
The final vote is scheduled for June 17.
A Burpee protest is planned for tomorrow at noon at the Wilson Building.