Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Proposed Health Club Tax

“It could cost you more to stay healthy. Governor Paterson wants to tax health club memberships. It is just one of a number of new taxes and fees being proposed to close the state's 13 billion dollar budget deficit. Anthony Lang says he ‘breaks a sweat’ at least three times a week. ’It's definitely a big part of my weekly schedule,’ Lang says. ‘If I didn't work out, I'd probably go crazy from my job. I need that in my week, really, to get by.’ Lang is not alone. Many say going to the gym gives them a chance to "run away" from their daily stresses, at least for a little while. That is why Midtown's Club Manager Bob McKernan says it is ridiculous that Governor David Paterson is proposing a sales tax increase on gym memberships. ‘That could discourage a number of people across the State from joining a gym or a health club,’ McKernan says. If this tax passes in the Legislature, that means eight percent in state and county taxes could be added onto memberships in Monroe County.McKernan thought it would only be fair to let his members know, so they have the opportunity to stop this tax before it goes through. ‘Just voice their opinion, then maybe try to find another way to balance the budget,’ he says. But the big contradiction here, and what seems to have many ‘worked up,’ is Paterson's other sales tax proposal, known as the ‘obesity tax.’ This would tax all non-diet sodas, in what Paterson says, is an attempt to curb obesity. Weight-lifting and regular soda do not go hand in hand, so if Paterson is concerned with making people healthy, many want to know why he is taxing both items. ‘I guess it makes me question what the true motives are. If they're really just looking for money that badly, or if they're looking out for our greater good,’ McKernan says. And McKernan says he will keep pushing for other solutions to close the budget gap."Raise the tax a little lighter on Coke and Pepsi."I spoke with Monroe County Executive Maggie Brooks, who says whether they agree with this tax or not, the County has no say in this matter. The only way this tax will go into effect, is if the New York State Legislature approves it.And it is not just gym memberships the Governor is looking to tax when it comes to health-related facilities. The proposal in the 2009-2010 Executive Budget goes beyond the gym. It also includes weight control salons, like Weight Watchers, or health facilities like the YMCA, and even day spas.”


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