Washington DC will begin imposing a 5.57% sales tax on fitness studios and facilities designed “for the purpose of physical exercise” from October 1.
The tax is being called “yoga tax” by the city’s yoga community who are striving to convince the city’s policy-makers to drop the idea, or to at least exempt yoga studios from the tax. Yoga teachers are pushing the reasoning that since yoga is a spiritual process and not a fitness exercise, it should not come under the tax net.
The Office of Tax and Revenue heard arguments from the yoga community last week on Tuesday. “None of us in the yoga community think the purpose is physical exercise,” Richard Karpel, president of Yoga Alliance. “Yoga is the union of the body, the mind and the spirit … The idea, when you practice yoga, is to create that union,” he added.
The tax was proposed by Phil Mendelson, Chairman of the DC council, and said that the community had opposed the very idea of such a fitness tax when it was being opposed. He argued that they had opposed the idea only because they thought it was applicable to them. So it was hypocrisy on their part to say that the tax was not applicable to them at this point of time.
David Umansky, communications director for the D.C. Chief Financial Officer, said, “OTR is taking public comments on the regulation. It is conceivable that changes in the regulation will be made before it is finalized but that will require council action.”
Ian Mishalove, a teacher of tantra at the Flow Yoga Center in Northwest D.C., said, “The new law takes effect next week and the big question still remains: Does that include yoga?” “D.C. officials haven’t decided yet and having more people make the case will help,” he added.