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Northwest Voices

Seattle Times letters to the editor

November 28, 2008 at 1:58 PM

Yoga studio tax

Don’t discourage fitness

For a newspaper that endorsed former gubernatorial candidate Dino Rossi, I am surprised to see you going after more tax on business, especially yoga studios [“Yoga studios should be taxed like gyms,” Editorial, Nov. 24].

Maybe the tax code does need to be cleared up to include professional services like lawyers, accountants, chiropractors, etc. There is a lot more money left on the table than the yoga mat.

With our nation’s terrible level of physical fitness and obesity, gyms, yoga and Pilates studios are the last things that should be taxed. Even a tax credit would be a wise investment.

— Steve Bell, Seattle

More than your average workout

As the owner of a yoga studio, I’m glad that the Washington Department of Revenue does its research better than The Seattle Times. Your statement that anyone who goes to a yoga class will know that it is merely physical exercise shows a lack of discernment.

The editorial board needs to read the number of articles The Times has published on the many benefits of yoga.

Revenue based its decision on two factors: the student’s intent and the structure of the class. If the intent is physical exercise and the students simply follow along, then the yoga class is subject to retail sales tax. This type of yoga is generally found in health clubs and gyms. There is no denying that classes such as “abs yoga” are often yoga in name only.

However, yoga studios are more often where students go for instruction in the actual practice of yoga, which involves not only the body but also the breath and mind. The student’s intent is to learn to do something that can be taken away from the yoga mat and applied to life. The intent and method of teaching are different. These true yoga classes will be exempt from retail sales tax just like martial-arts instruction.

The Department of Revenue did its research, listened, learned and understood that there is a difference. I commend them for their open-minded and fair approach during times when they are trying to find every possible source of money.

— Pat Musburger, Shoreline

Comments | More in Health care, Washington Legislature

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