Tennessee is taxing Wellness? What?

Tennessee Sales Tax for “Fitness” Classes starts Sept 1st

2018-tax-laws

The Tennessee Dept of Revenue recently ruled that all fitness classes are subject to sales tax under the Tennessee Amusement Tax 67-6-212. Amusement tax  …. yep its called the amusement tax….. I am not amused. 

This does NOT include Yoga Therapy sessions or Private Yoga lessons, I had a lovely conversation with my accountant who assured me that Yoga Therapy, Private or Personal Yoga falls under the exemption for Personal Trainers, Yep Personal Trainers and PT studios are exempt, its an arbitrary rule…. Although to be clear what I do is as different from personal training as my classes are from pilates fitness classes.

This ruling specifically references “fitness” centers and classes and goes on to clarify that “fitness” includes “yoga.” I am not a fitness center and I do not offer any kind of fitness classes.

What I do offer is wellness and lifestyle classes based on movement and breathing. But the state of Tennessee has taken it upon itself to declare yoga to be fitness. 

Yoga is wellness and so much more than fitness, or even movement but in our western culture it appears to be much like a pilates class and since it is often taught in gyms, that seems to have been the source of confusion.

All my classes are based on a therapeutic approach to movement and alignment, and include breathing techniques and meditation that are proven to have positive health benefits, and this means that Yoga is very different from a fitness class, even if that Yoga class is taught in a gym, a church basement or a private home.

But I am also not please with this ruling for ANY fitness, wellness or movement based class. Tennessee ranks 45 in overall health… 45th! Just a few of the stats 

  • 45th in cardiovascular deaths.
  • 44th in high blood pressure.
  • 44th in diabetes

These are preventable diseases and disorders…. and fitness, including movement based  classes, are are big part of that prevention. Movement based classes are important for older adults. These classes help them stay mobile and help them combat depression and loneliness. Fitness classes encourage other healthy habits in all age groups like smoking less or quitting altogether, with eating less meat and making healthier food choices. And by taxing only the small businesses that have these classes they will have to raise the rates for these classes perhaps prohibiting some people from taking these classes….. and many fitness facilities have ‘community’ classes that are low cost or no cost these classes may go away.

But the thing that really pisses me off is the arbitrariness ( yes thats a real word I looked it up) of the ruling. 

Sales tax for the following

Aerobic classes (e.g., step or water aerobics,
jazz, Latin, world or other dance-based classes 
Ballet barre workout classes
Yoga classes
Fitness boot camps
Spin/indoor cycling classes
Indoor rowing classes
Boxing and kickboxing fitness classes
High intensity interval training (HIIT)
Cross training

Examples of exempt activities 

***It should be noted, under Sales Tax Rule 122, that fees or charges for instruction in sports or recreational activities are not subject to sales tax.
For example, fees or charges for playing tennis are subject to sales tax; however, fees or charges for tennis lessons alone are not subject to sales tax.*** yea, read that again and then someone tell me how that makes sense! 

These are exempt from taxation 

 Martial arts (e.g., Karate, Ju-Jitsu, Tae Kwon Do)
 Dance lessons
 Gymnastics classes
 Fencing lessons
 Skiing lessons
 Yoga teacher training

So tax everyone or tax no one. Right now its unfair!

I am working on clarifying the language I use to describe the group yoga ‘lessons’ I teach so that, with any luck, in the future I will be able to apply for exemption to this unreasonable tax.

I have managed in the past to keep my rates for classes (and Yoga Therapy & Private Yoga) as low as possible, certainly lower than other studios and gym where yoga is taught, because I want everyone to have a chance to enjoy the benefits of yoga, movement & breathwork  and to move with less pain and more freedom. I hope you agree and will contact your State Rep to see about repealing this ruling.

Here is a link to a petition that is being circulated please sign it and pass it on through Facebook and other social media sites.

https://www.change.org/p/please-help-stop-tennessee-s-sales-tax-on-your-health?recruiter=false&utm_source=share_petition&utm_medium=facebook&utm_campaign=sign_checkbox.lightning_share_checkbox_quote.fake_control

State Representative John Ray Clemmons  https://www.facebook.com/johnrayfortn/    is introducing legislation in 2019 to exempt health and wellness classes from sales taxes. If you agree, please encourage your Tennessee state legislators to support this bill. 

Here is the States website with info about the ruling

https://www.tn.gov/content/dam/tn/revenue/documents/notices/sales/sales18-09.pdf

internet-sales-tax

Om Shanti!

Cheryl

Here a Yogi, there a Yogi, everywhere a Yogi!

I love New Year  yes I know its already March, but the “new to yoga” crowd has been going strong this year and doesn’t show any signs of slowing down! If you’ve been hanging out at gym, fitness center or yoga studios for a while then you know what new year means for those of us that work there. Busy Busy Busy! The holidays are over and folks schedules are getting back to normal so they start coming back to classes on a regular basis. And then there are those that spent the holidays pigging out and slacking off  “Guilty as charged”.

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The’re back too.  And of course there are all those wonderful New year’s resolutioners (yes thats a word). So classes are kicking it, crazy full and lovely! So I thought I might give you a few tips on how to navigate a crazy full yoga room.

Classes have been so full, I can barely walk around without knocking over a water bottle or kicking a yoga block across your mat.  It does make moving around the room more interesting.  That said, it is good to know what to expect so here are a few pointers.

  • Don’t worry if your mat is 6 -8 inches from your neighbors, look at it this way you’re making new friends, your breathing each others air so you better learn to like each other.
  • Stagger your mats, you a little more forward, them a little back. Create space.
  • Be aware of your mat neighbors.  I do try to keep the use of lateral movements to a minimum in close quarters, but still be open to modifying your practice with smaller movements.  Sometimes less really is more.
  • Keep with you only what you need – blocks, straps and a blanket should do it.  If you want to have water, make sure its in a non breakable bottle with a lid.
  • Have fun.  The more people in the room, the more energy.  All this energy can lift your practice to unexpected heights.
  • If you are new to Yoga in general, remember you don’t have to “do” everything, just because your mat neighbor puts his/her foot in some interesting places doesn’t mean you have to.
  • Speaking of feet in crazy places, if you are gifted and can put your foot in interesting places (i.e Flip dog) keep in mind you might be invading someones space. Sometimes lees is more.
  • Oh and if you wear classes and sometimes take them off during class, put them somewhere they wont get stepped on, on the edge of your mat, I have been known to tuck mine down my top, they get icky but not broken and in savasana, lay them on your chest or belly.

And last ‘Be prepared to share”…space, breath, air and Yogi toys. Sometimes where you practice may not enough blocks/blankets/bolsters ect to go around. Someone may need ‘it’ more than you.

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DSC_0504 Bhakti Fest

These have to be pic’s of the worlds biggest yoga class ever 🙂 WOW

Om Shanti

Cheryl