Planet Fitness Cites Obamacare for Tax on Gym Memberships

Planet Fitness Cites Obamacare for Tax on Gym Memberships

Yesterday afternoon I followed my Sunday workout routine and went to Planet Fitness, only to be surprised by a sign placed on the front desk.  

The sign read: “Attention Members, Holders of Black Card Memberships will be required to pay a tax on these memberships starting January 1, 2014 as required by the implementation of the Affordable Health Care Act. This is not a change in your membership fee but rather a tax required by the government.”

Black Card members at Planet Fitness are now subject to a tax under Obamacare, according to the memo. The Black Card membership comes with many amenities such as access to every Planet Fitness location nationwide, unlimited tanning and massage chairs, and a few other perks. After speaking with a staff member, I asked if the new five-cent-per-month tax was because of the unlimited tanning amenity; the employee answered yes.  

When the Affordable Care Act’s tanning tax was implemented in 2012, tanning salons were outraged that their small businesses were facing such a tax. In June of 2013, the IRS finalized the so-called tanning tax and exempted fitness centers who had tanning beds because their business was not entirely tanning. Why, then, are fitness centers and gyms such as Planet Fitness collecting this tax if in fact they are exempt, according to the IRS?

The fitness center’s Black Card members can certainly see the irony in being forced to pay a tax for living a healthy lifestyle, whatever the logic behind it turns out to be. While five cents a month may not seem like a large amount, the extra charge still seems to violate the principle of the law behind it. 

Obamacare was sold to the American people as a program that would improve healthcare for everyone, but yet there have been millions of cancelled policies, 2.3 million full-time jobs lost, and skyrocketing premiums for the young and healthy. Clearly, it makes little sense to tax those who have all-inclusive gym memberships and try to maintain physical fitness. 

Ashley Pratte is the Public Relations Officer for Young America’s Foundation.


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