Yogis Bend Over Backwards To Avoid DC Yoga Tax: It’s Not ‘Physical Exercise’

Now that the Washington, D.C. City Council has passed a “yoga tax,” which taxes gym and fitness center memberships in the city, yoga advocates are trying to contort their way out of the tax service at a “fitness club, fitness center, or gym the purpose of which is physical exercise.”

Richard Karpel, president of the Yoga Alliance, argues that yoga is not technically fitness, as its original purpose is not exercise.

“If it takes the notion of a firm gluteus or a flatter tummy to get some people in the door, that’s fine with us. Eventually they’ll find great teachers who help them understand what yoga is really about,” Karpel wrote on the Yoga Alliance website. “But misguided notions about the purpose of yoga become destructive when they lead to misplaced government burdens.”

The group points out that “yoga generally includes within its teachings not simply physical exercise, but activities such as meditation, spiritual chanting, breathing techniques, and relaxation skills.”

The Yoga Alliance has submitted comments to the D.C. government, hoping that the city will address the issue during the rulemaking process.

The group cites a similar tax in New York state, which excluded yoga studios from the tax on fitness centers.

D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray vetoed the D.C. budget that included the tax, citing concerns that it “taxes wellness.” But the council voted to override his veto and implement the “yoga tax.”

This post has been updated.

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