On Sunday, I
went for a workout to Planet Fitness, where upon entering I noticed a
sign on the desk that 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.”
Immediately questioning why
this tax was going to be added to my monthly membership fee of $19.99, I
decided to ask a staff member. My first thought was that the tax was a
result of the 10 percent tanning tax that was implemented in 2010 and
revised in 2012.
The staff member told me that this was, in fact,
where the tax was coming from and that a 5-cent tax would be added to my
Owing to my interest in public policy and
legislation, I knew quite a bit about the so-called “tanning tax,” and
the last I knew was that fitness centers whose business wasn’t primarily tanning were exempt from this tax.
Sure enough, I visited the Internal Revenue Service
website and found under Chapter 1, Non-Taxable Services, there’s a
whole section on why “Qualified Physical Fitness Facilities” are exempt.
website specifically states: “Payments to a Qualified Physical Fitness
Facility (QPFF) that includes access to indoor tanning services are not
subject to the indoor tanning services excise tax.”
So why is it that Black Card memberships are now being taxed? The answer is unclear. The IRS clearly exempts fitness centers from this “tanning tax” under Obamacare. Many people purchase the Black Card
membership for the many amenities that it provides, such as unlimited
access to all Planet Fitness locations nationwide, massage chairs and
guest passes — not just the unlimited tanning.
The unlimited tanning is a small percentage of Planet Fitness’ business, and that is why the IRS provision exempts them. Now all Black Card
members are subject to this tax, just because they choose to purchase
an all-inclusive membership in order to maintain a healthy lifestyle and
As a frequent gym goer and a Black Card
member, I am not thrilled about this new tax. I have been a member at
Planet Fitness for more than three years, and I enjoy the gym because it
offers flexible hours.
Many locations are open 24 hours, and they
also give you the option to workout at any location, which accommodates
busy lifestyles. People should be encouraged to work out — not taxed
because they choose a membership that also offers unlimited tanning.
the merits of tanning can be discussed at length, the tanning tax was
quite controversial when it was first implemented. It should be debated
now, though, as to why fitness centers are forced to collect a tax on
their memberships if the package offers the unlimited tanning amenity.
tax is an example of the effects of continued big federal government
regulation and the taxing machine known as Obamacare. The tanning tax
was originally implemented to help fund the $940 billion health care
overhaul, but the tax has generated significantly less revenue than
This burdensome tanning tax has already hurt many small businesses across the country and has caused tanning salons to lay off employees or close down their shops.
new tax is only 5 cents, but it’s the principle of the matter. Big
government chooses to tax anything and everything when it can. These
taxes are out of control and egregious.
Since the “tanning tax”
didn’t bring in the projected revenue, is this why fitness centers are
now forced to collect this tax on its members?
Ashley Pratte is the public relations officer for Young America’s Foundation.