Thursday, November 5, 2009

Hindus, Yoga Teachers Question US Sales Tax

“Yoga practitioners are criticizing a Missouri sales tax that applies to yoga classes, claiming they should be exempt because the lessons include spiritual elements. A Missouri Department of Revenue official sent letters to 140 yoga and Pilates centers on Oct. 13, telling them they must collect sales tax on the fees for their classes and services and pay them beginning Nov. 1, if they weren't already. The sales tax on money paid to places of ‘amusement, entertainment or recreation, games and athletic events’ isn't new, said revenue spokesman Ted Farnen. He said the letters were sent so the businesses would know that yoga centers offer the same types of fitness services that the Missouri Supreme Court has found taxable. But the tax took many Missouri yoga instructors by surprise. They're bristling at the notion that the ancient practice could be construed as recreation or entertainment. ‘Whoever categorized it doesn't understand what yoga is,’ said Cathleen Williams, the owner of Urban Breath Yoga in St. Louis. Several yoga businesses have agreed to collect the sales tax and turn it over to the state, but Williams said it's being done ‘under protest.’ An Ohio Department of Revenue spokesman, Mike McKinney, explained Ohio taxes gym, recreation and sports club memberships, not the classes offered. A West Virginia Department of Revenue spokeswoman, Kimberly Osborne, said sales taxes are collected from yoga studios. Missouri said it will consider religious exemptions to the sales tax on a case-by-case basis. Farnen said the revenue letters were sent to yoga and Pilates businesses, not Hindu temples.”

1 comment:

jhone said...

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