Congress Might Make Your Gym Membership Tax-Deductible

You may not have known, but Wednesday was National Golf Day in Washington D.C., the day the industry’s leaders come together and push their agenda on issues that could help the game. Among them is a bill called the PHIT Act, which proposes to make the costs associated exercise tax-deductible.

Golf Digest has a nice explainer on what it would mean for golf:

Because if the PHIT Act passes as currently constituted it would, along with several other physical-fitness expenses, make golf camps and clinics, lessons and training aids, green fees and driving-range fees, tournament fees and, wait for it . . . golf balls and golf clubs tax deductible up to $1,000 for an individual or $2,000 for a head of household or family.

That’s great news for all the golfers out there, but the language of the PHIT Act is actually far broader. In fact, it’s rather limiting golf-wise when you consider what else it has the potential to do.

According to the bill:

“(12) QUALIFIED SPORTS AND FITNESS EXPENSES.—

“(A) IN GENERAL.—The term ‘qualified sports and fitness expenses’ means amounts paid—

“(i) for membership at a fitness facility,

“(ii) for participation or instruction in a program of physical exercise or physical activity, and

“(iii) for equipment for use in a program (including a self-directed program) of physical exercise or physical activity.

“(B) OVERALL DOLLAR LIMITATION.—The aggregate amount treated as qualified sports and fitness expenses with respect to any taxpayer for any taxable year shall not exceed $1,000 ($2,000 in the case of a joint return or a head of household (as defined in section 2(b))).

What does that mean? It means that gym memberships, classes, sneakers, fitness videos, books and exercise equipment are all some of the things you could potential write-off on your taxes.

But alas, if something’s too good to be true it probably is: Does the PHIT Act actually have a chance of passing? Right now, it doesn’t seem so.

100 lawmakers in both the House and Senate support the bill, but it’s been stuck before the House Ways and Means committee since it was introduced last year. Rep. Jerry Weller (D-IL) has been pushing this bill since 2006 so while it has been making slight progress, GovTrack still only pegs its chances of being signed into law at four percent.

But on the plus side, that’s right! Four! Whole! Percent! Do the math, and you’ll find that’s four percent more likely than zero percent.

Published: 05/13/2016

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