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Entries in sales tax (28)


The Spreading Threat of Sales Taxes on Membership Dues

States looking to apply a sales tax to club memberships and charges like personal training is not a new phenomenon. There are some states that already apply their sales tax to memberships, such as Connecticut, Minnesota, New Jersey, and Washington. What is concerning and bears watching is not only the number of states considering a sales tax on club memberships, but which states are now considering doing it.  

Continue reading "The Spreading Threat of Sales Taxes on Membership Dues."

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2016 Legislative Threats: Sales Tax on Health Clubs

Over the last decade, the club industry has been the target of an effort to impose sales tax on membership dues in ten states. For nine of those years, IHRSA has worked with clubs across Pennsylvania and its lobbyist in Harrisburg to fight against proposals that would expand the state’s sales tax base to include a host of currently untaxed services, including those offered by health clubs. 

The threat of a tax on healthy lifestyles reached new levels in 2015; the new governor built his election campaign on a promise to increase education funding and the legislature was intent on reforming the state’s property tax laws and pension system, all of which added up to the government needing to come up with new revenue. The first revenue source the legislature turned to was an expansion of the sales tax, which they have considered and rejected in each of the last nine sessions. 

Once IHRSA’s lobbyist provided intelligence that a sales tax on clubs would be included in the version of the state budget moving forward, IHRSA got to work educating lawmakers on why a tax on health clubs is bad policy.

In addition to direct meetings with every member of the legislature, IHRSA members and health club consumers throughout the state made a powerful statement against the tax, generating over 13,000 emails to state representatives and senators, and the governor’s office. The impressive volume of messages was made possible by industry leaders in the state (such as the Newtown Athletic Club in Newtown, PA) stepping up and working with IHRSA to engage as many within the industry as possible, urging them to join the cause. 

The messages were heard loud and clear in Harrisburg—IHRSA’s lobbyist was told by many legislators that their offices were hearing about the health club tax more than any other issue in the 2015 session. As a result, an expansion of the tax to clubs was rejected. However, Pennsylvania has still yet to enact a budget for the current fiscal year, meaning that the fight will continue on in 2016.

There are also a number of other states that may consider taxing health club memberships this year. Similar to what has happened in Pennsylvania, legislatures often propose taxing health club dues and services when the state is in need of more revenue to resolve a budget deficit or pay for a new legislative priority. However, in the long run, the revenue generated from a 5-7% tax on health club memberships is unlikely to compensate for the rising cost of caring for an increasingly inactive population.

What a tax on health club memberships does do is raise costs for members and creates a disincentive to engage in healthy behaviors. IHRSA strongly believes that policy makers should be doing everything they can to make healthy lifestyles more accessible.

Based on recent legislative trends, conversations with state lawmakers and regulators, and intelligence gathered from our lobbying teams and member clubs across the country, IHRSA predicts that we will once again face a number of bills that would restrict how a health club signs and retains its members in the upcoming sessions.

A number of indicators suggest legislators will consider the issue in multiple states in 2016*, most notably in California, Illinois, Maine, Michigan, Nevada, and Virginia.

IHRSA’s Public Policy team has worked to ensure that the industry is prepared to protect itself in each of these states. However, given how legislative issues spread quickly across state lines, it is very important to stay on top what is going on in your state, even if it is not listed among those above. Email us to make sure you are signed up to receive IHRSA’s Legislative Alerts and routinely visit IHRSA’s state pages to get the latest on issues that might impact your club.

*25 states (and the District of Columbia) already charge sales tax on health club dues and services.


Video: Health Club Urges Members to ‘Say No’ to PA Tax

Newtown Athletic Club’s (NAC) latest video series supports IHRSA’s and other Pennsylvania member clubs’ effort to fight the state’s proposed sales tax on fitness centers.

The “Say ‘No’ to PA Health Club Tax” videos feature long-time NAC members who use the health club as part of a medical regimen. The caption of each video provides a link to IHRSA’s Action Center web page, where residents can find out how to contact their legislators. 

NAC shared the videos with members via email and social media, which they believe generated hundreds of responses to legislators. You can view the full video series on NAC’s YouTube page.


PA Sales Tax Advocacy Call

12.3.15 Update: Campaigns for both Fitness Industry Professionals and Fitness Consumers have been launched. Thousands of messages have already been sent to Pennsylvania lawmakers. Add your voices now! Learn more at

The Pennsylvania legislature’s debate over the state budget appears to be coming toward a conclusion. IHRSA has learned that an expansion of the sales tax to Pennsylvania health clubs is included in the leading budget proposal.

IHRSA will host a teleconference from 1-2 p.m. on Wednesday, December 2, to discuss efforts to prevent the imposition of Pennsylvania’s sales tax on health club services.

The participation of as many health club professionals as possible is vital to IHRSA’s success defending Pennsylvania health clubs from this tax on healthy lifestyles. All Pennsylvania members and staff are invited to participate. To learn more, and to register, please visit


What Would Happen to Your Health Club if...

What would happen if dues at your club went up by 8% but every penny of the increase went to the government not the club? 

When the government imposes a sales tax on your dues, the cost of joining your club goes up, but you don’t see any of that revenue. Given all the problems caused by inactivity, you would think that governments would not impose a tax on membership dues since it is a barrier to healthy exercise, but states (and cities) continue to consider taxing health club dues and services.

Think this isn’t likely? Think again.

Read more.

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Victory! Maine Does Not Tax Health Clubs

Maine legislators approved the state’s budget, overriding Governor LePage’s veto, and ensuring that the sales tax will not be extended to health clubs.

Earlier in the session, Governor Paul LePage had proposed a budget that included sweeping changes to the state’s tax code – including imposing the sales tax on health club services. In response, IHRSA sought to work with our members in Maine to target key legislators and ask that they oppose a tax on healthy lifestyles in their state.

After months of bitter, high-profile bickering between the legislature and the governor’s office, the legislature won out and passed a less ambitious budget plan, which expands the state’s sales tax, but not to health club services.

IHRSA members are invited read more and comment here.


Maine Considering Sales Tax on Health Clubs

In April, IHRSA launched a grassroots advocacy campaign to fight against a potential expansion of the sales tax to include health club services.

Since then, Democrats and Republicans in the statehouse have each introduced their own alternative tax reform packages. The Democrats' plan mirrors the Republican governor's in its proposed expansion of the state sales tax to include currently untaxed services, including health clubs. The Republicans' package does not expand the sales tax. The legislature's Joint Committee on Appropriations is now working to reconcile all three proposals into a single plan.

IHRSA is encouraging Maine health club operators to speak out against this sales tax on healthy lifestyles by contacting state legislators to inform them that health club services are not just an “amusement,” but are instead a crucial component in improving the health and happiness of Maine’s citizens.

See this CBI article for more on the wellness tax issue. And see talking points to educate your lawmakers here.

And to help IHRSA protect clubs from harmful legislation and taxes in all fifty states, pledge your support today to the Industry Leadership Council.


Sales Tax Bill to be Introduced in Pennsylvania


Pennsylvania Governor, Tom Wolf, recently announced his plan to expand the current sales tax to untaxed services, including health clubs.

This week, Representative Jake Wheatley will introduce legislation that would finance the governor’s tax reform proposals.

IHRSA is calling on health club operators in the state to oppose this sales tax by reaching out to state representatives and informing them of the negative impact that this tax would have on healthy lifestyles.

We will continue to fight this tax on wellness and keep you informed of any updates. 


Attention Missouri Clubs

IHRSA is asking that health clubs in Missouri speak out against the state’s current tax on health club services.

House Bill 117 (HB 117), which would repeal Missouri’s sales tax on health club services, received a hearing in the state Senate Ways and Means Committee last week, at which IHRSA and multiple local club operators offered testimony in support of the bill. Yesterday, the committee issued a formal recommendation in favor of the bill's enactment. HB 117 will now move to a full Senate vote. 

This current sales tax discourages Missouri residents from pursuing healthy lifestyles. The government should be encouraging opportunities for physical activity in order to help combat the sedentary and obesity crises in this country.

For more information on the Missouri sales tax and how you can become involved in the repeal process, see


The Worldwide Battle against Taxing Membership Dues

IHRSA works with clubs around the world to battle the misguided attempts of government to tax their citizens health by imposing high taxes on club memberships. In the U.S., that battle takes place at the state level. While the industry has been successful in stoping most new attempts to tax membership dues, we all know repealing or significantly reducing a tax is a hard and challenging road. Thanks to the efforts of the Polish Fitness Association for Employers (PFAE) more government officials have seen the light, and have reduced the value added tax (VAT) from 23% to 8% for membership in Polish clubs. Read more.

IHRSA works in each of the 50-states to achieve what Poland has done - to remove financial barriers to joining a health club. IHRSA is currently working with club operators in Maine and Pennsylvania to oppose sales tax impositions in their states, and are working with club operators in Washington, DC to repeal the recently imposed city tax on healthy lifestyles.