DC’s Yoga Tax Is Hurting Small Businesses, Local Gyms

Washington, D.C. recently placed a new tax on fitness studios, yoga instructors, and gyms. The tax, referred to by many as a “yoga tax”, effectively makes all kinds of exercise-based services 5.75% more expensive.

The tax has motivated many of those who own small fitness businesses in the city to organize against it. Graham King, who owns the Urban Athletic Club, played a key role in driving the opposition to the tax. He began reaching out to other fitness club owners and created a Facebook page urging people to “make calls to the mayor and city council to have our voices heard.”

It was the straw that broke the camel’s back … I thought it would be imprudent for me to increase my expansion without knowing the effects of this tax.”

He told Opportunity Lives that taxing fitness in what the American College of Sports Medicine recently labeled America’s fittest city “constitutes a slap in the face to Washingtonians.”

King also said that the tax will “have an overall negative impact on society.” He pointed to the different ways that fitness benefits society and, by extension, raising the cost of fitness hurts society. He also raised concerns over how the tax might affect the city’s economy.

“This tax could lead to decreased revenues in fitness businesses as they may see fewer people joining, fewer sessions taken,” he said. “A dip in revenue could lead to fewer jobs, fewer corporate tax dollars paid, fewer expansion plans.”

When asked how he thinks the tax might affect his business, King said “It may discourage purchases for sure.”

“But mainly it’s added another to-do on an already busy plate. I now have to spend more time processing this tax.”

Other gym owners are already planning for the negative effects of the tax. As King predicted, the tax is already eliminating jobs from the district. VIDA Fitness, a local gym chain, has decided to drop their plans to open a new location within the city, according to the Washington City Paper.

“It was the straw that broke the camel’s back,” VIDA founder Von Storch told the City Paper. “I thought it would be imprudent for me to increase my expansion without knowing the effects of this tax.”

King wonders why his industry is being targeted while others aren’t. “Why weren’t legal services, lobbying, and accounting services considered,” he said. “The last time I checked it was law firms moving into swank new properties, not gyms.”

Graham King isn’t giving up on Urban Athletic Club anytime soon though. His anger hasn’t dissipated but neither has his dedication to his business.

“I do believe that the Council has elected to lead from behind instead of taking a bold step to promote health and fitness,” he said. “But whatever, small businesses will continue to do what we do: work hard and get screwed by the government until we become big business and buy our politicians.”