Stop Tennessee's Sales Tax on Your Health

Stop Tennessee's Sales Tax on Your Health

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Sharon Lusk started this petition to Rusty Crowe, Chair of the Senate Standing Committee on Health and Welfare Senator Rusty Crowe and

Fitness classes and personal training should be free from sales tax in Tennessee!

Recently, the Tennessee Department of Revenue released a notice entitled “Physical Fitness” that says sales tax must be charged on most fitness classes and personal training   This notice is a recap of a 2015 ruling by the Department of Revenue and not a newly passed law by the Tennessee legislators.   The Department is saying that physical fitness activities fall under an AMUSEMENT tax law; and broadening its application with more specificity than was in its 2015 ruling.  The Department is taxing more and more activities.

This “rule” by the Department seems counter-intuitive to both the physical and financial wellness of our state and targeted towards our locally owned businesses.

In 2017 According to America’s Health Rankings, Tennessee’s population was ranked 45th in the nation in overall health.  The prior year, Tennessee was ranked 44th.  Tennesseans health, already among the lowest in the nation, is declining. 

Among these troubling statistics, Tennessee’s population ranked:

  • 48th in strokes.
  • 47th in missed work days for sickness.
  • 47th in high cholesterol.
  • 45th in cardiovascular deaths.
  • 44th in high blood pressure.
  • 44th in diabetes
  • 43rd in PREVENTABLE hospitalizations.

According to the Centers for Disease Control, even 60 minutes of physical activity per week can significantly reduce the risk of the health concerns listed above.

Adding sales tax to physical fitness activities will likely have a deterrent impact on those attending fitness classes and may further increase the cost of healthcare and the loss of business productivity in our state.  It discourages rather than encourages a healthy lifestyle. 

Further, the application of the rule seems arbitrary.  For example, according to the notice, exercise classes that are taxable include:

  • Aerobic classes (e.g., step or water aerobics, jazz, Latin, world or other dance-based classes)
  • Ballet barre workout classes
  • Yoga classes
  • Fitness boot camps
  • Spin/indoor cycling classes
  • Indoor rowing classes
  • Boxing and kickboxing fitness classes
  • High intensity interval training (HIIT)
  • Cross training

But the following classes are NOT taxable:

  • Martial arts (e.g., Karate, Ju-Jitsu, Tae Kwon Do)
  • Dance lessons
  • Gymnastics classes
  • Fencing lessons
  • Skiing lessons

The rationale offered is that the second group of classes are "instructional" and the first group are not.  Really?  It seems that most teachers of these classes have studied and received certifications in order to TEACH these classes.

Another disturbing aspect of this application of sales tax is that an exemption to the tax can be applied for by  LARGE businesses that are open 70 hours a week and have 15,000 square feet devoted to physical fitness purposes.  Thus, it seems that out of state owned, mega facilities are excluded and locally owned studios and businesses are targeted. 

Please swiftly address through legislation this “ruling” that broadens the amusement law to tax Tennessean’s fitness classes; and encourage Tennesseans to be active participants in their own wellness. 

The notice issued by the Tennessee Department of Revenue can be found at:

For more information on Tennessee’s health rankings please visit:

For more information on the benefits of physical activity, please visit:

To find your personal legislators, please visit:

0 have signed. Let’s get to 5,000!
At 5,000 signatures, this petition is more likely to get picked up by local news!