Taxing the Healthy?

Ashley Pratte

2/10/2014 9:13:00 AM - Ashley Pratte

Once again the government must know what’s best for us. Today, I went to my gym where upon entry I noticed a sign that read “Attention Members, Holders of Black Card Memberships will be required to pay a tax on these memberships starting January 1, 2014 as required by the implementation of the Affordable Health Care Act. This is not a change in your membership fee but rather a tax required by the government.”

During my anger-fueled yet fantastic elliptical workout I mulled over this new tax in my head. At the completion of my workout I decided to talk to a staff member at Planet Fitness who could answer my questions. Figuring that this tax was mainly related to the fact that the Black Card membership offers unlimited tanning, that was my first question. The staff member replied that it was true and there would be a five cent tax added to my monthly membership fee of $19.99, making the cost $20.04.

The tanning tax went into effect back in 2012 and was rather controversial, but fitness centers offering unlimited tanning came out unscathed. The IRS finalized the Obamacare Tanning Tax in June of 2013, and stated the tax is only applicable to tanning salons not to fitness centers whose business isn’t primarily tanning.

So why now are fitness centers such as Planet Fitness notifying members carrying Black Cards that their monthly memberships will be taxed? Many people purchase the membership because it offers accessibility to all Planet Fitness locations and not just one home gym, the major benefit to having a Black Card. Not everyone purchases the Black Card membership for the unlimited tanning amenity, so why is everyone subject to a monthly five cent tanning tax? While it may be a small fee, it still is enough to be upsetting. Why should people be taxed for living a healthy lifestyle over an amenity that they may or may not take advantage of?

Next thing you know gyms will have to tax their members for selling cooler drinks because they don’t meet government regulations—it may seem like a stretch but it’s really not. Fitness and exercise are essential to maintaining good health, something Michelle Obama has been tirelessly advocating for through her Let’s Move campaign. Taxing a majority of people who are trying to exercise over something such as tanning beds is appalling. Burdensome taxes that are placed on small businesses are getting out of hand. Planet Fitness franchises are independently owned and operated and are now apparently expected to comply with this federal government regulation.

This is just another example of overreaching government intrusion in our daily lives, at least I was able to get in a great workout although I was being taxed for it.