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A Guide to Fighting a Sales, Service, or Amusement Tax on Health Club Membership

This resource provides insights and tips on how to demonstrate to lawmakers your club’s commitment to fighting for and encouraging healthy lifestyles that would reduce obesity, chronic disease, and healthcare costs.

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You have the power to fight sales tax proposals in your state that would burden your health club and your members. Taxing products and services is a proven method for discouraging purchases and behaviors. That's why when lawmakers wanted to decrease smoking and sugar consumption, they taxed it. That’s why IHRSA opposes taxing healthy lifestyles.

In this guide you will find instructions and talking points on how to respond to a tax proposal, launch an advocacy campaign, and communicate effectively with lawmakers in five easy steps.

Exercise isn't just good for you; it is preventative care. Getting more people active can:

  • improve your community's health
  • bring down the cost of healthcare
  • bolster our national and local economies

So, for the sake of public health, all levels of government should be doing everything in their power to promote physical activity and support policies that make it easier to pursue a healthy lifestyle.

Most of the tax proposals IHRSA often sees exempt prescription and nonprescription drugs; however, physicians often prescribe exercise to their patients. Ergo, fitness memberships should not be taxed, adding an additional burden to people trying to take control of their health.

As of 2019, 24 states and the District of Columbia tax health club memberships, but there is hope. Just this year, IHRSA—with the help of members like you—was able to roll back a sales tax for all health clubs in Tennessee.

“We have avoided the implementation of a sales tax on health club memberships in Pennsylvania by creating an outreach campaign that spanned the entire state. We worked closely with IHRSA, utilizing their political action software platform which allows us to send links to club owners, operators and members via email and social media driving a strong message campaign to state legislators asking them to not support this taxation.”

Linda Mitchell, Director of Public and Government Relations

Newtown Athletic Club - Newtown, PA