Council members approved a city sales tax on gym memberships and yoga classes for the first time Tuesday, over the objections of people who called it a “wellness tax” or “yoga tax.” The roughly $5 million it would generate yearly would be used to partially offset a package of tax cuts that could leave as much as $143 million a year in taxpayers’ pockets.
A vote to reject an amendment that would have canceled the sales tax expansion and a subsequent vote to approve the broader budget deal also represented a victory for the council chairman, Phil Mendelson (D), who orchestrated the District’s most significant tax breaks in 15 years.
Mendelson was acting on dozens of recommendations made by the D.C. Tax Revision Commission, a blue-ribbon panel that concluded an 18-month examination of the District’s revenue structure late last year. The overhaul provoked the wrath of Mayor Vincent C. Gray (D) — not to mention the scorn of gym owners and members unhappy about the sales tax expansion — and financial officials had questioned whether the new budget is viable.
But Mendelson kept the support of his colleagues through crucial votes Tuesday. Nine of 13 council members rejected the anti-gym-tax amendment offered by David A. Catania (I-At Large), a mayoral candidate, who argued that it would discourage personal fitness.
“It’s a penny-wise and pound-foolish proposition,” he said on the council dais, to cheers from the audience. “We are looking at increased and deferred health costs in the long run.”
Mendelson said Catania’s concerns were unfounded and that there was little evidence that a 5.75 percent sales tax would discourage gym membership. “We have a sales tax on restaurants and alcohol that’s significantly greater . . . and we have seen restaurant activity boom over the last several years in the District.”So what you you rather do, eat and drink or work out?
Linked at Proof Positive in the "Weekly Best of the Web" and at the DaleyGator in "Saturday Evening/Sunday Morning links." And I finally get around to acknowledging Wombat-socho's "Rule 5 Monday: Air-Cooled" several days late.