Urge WA State Lawmakers to Fix a MISTAKE Forcing Taxation of Martial Arts Instruction!

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Urge WA State Lawmakers to Fix a MISTAKE Forcing Taxation of Martial Arts Instruction!

This petition had 8,423 supporters
Washington State Martial Arts School Owners started this petition to State Senator Joe Fain and

<New Developments and Updated For 2017>

If you think martial arts deserves to be returned to equal status with every other similar business, as an educational service, in WA State read and sign our petition.

Due to an ADMITTED "UNINTENDED CONSEQUENCE" in legislation made in 2015 all martial arts schools were required to charge students sales tax up to 10.1% in 2017 and beyond.  This has hurt these small businesses and is hindering access for children and adults alike.  This affected ONLY martial arts studios and not other fine arts or instructional based businesses.  Even though this law is unjust and a mistake lawmakers may not want to give this revenue back without your urging.  Learn more below.

Learning a martial art is about much more than exercising or playing a game. 

Instruction in the martial arts has traditionally been ESTEEMED in the community for the unparalleled benefits participants receive when learning these important self defense and cultural art forms. It is understood that martial art is as much mental and spiritual as it is physical. 

Martial arts have been one of the most important and effective bridges between cultures bringing people together.

Our schools are the go-to resource for parents with children struggling with confidence issues or bullies and to instill respect, discipline, focus and determination.



In addition HB1550 was proposed and passed without notification or chance for opposing viewpoint by a single member of the martial arts business community.  We had no lobbyist or representation.  In Olympia we were told, 'if you're not at the table you're on the menu.'  Our research showed that martial arts was specifically targeted by Department of Revenue yet most lawmakers were unaware due to incomplete and inaccurate bill summaries and analysis.

In opposition to common sense, what our business licenses state and decades of research this law redefined any facility teaching martial arts as an 'athletic or fitness facility' or health club. The law stipulates that ALL business done inside the walls of an 'athletic or fitness facility' is subject to retail sales tax up to 9.9% in our state. A 9.9% tax on all facets of the educational process (tuition, private lesson, guest instructors, testing, special events) makes truly educating extremely difficult if not impossible to accomplish.

We also find troubling the institutionalized cultural discrimination inherent in the exclusion and protection of businesses that primarily teach yoga, tai chi and chi gong. Why are two cultural practices from China, and one traditionally associated with India, protected and esteemed of higher value than the cultural arts of the Philippines, Thailand, Japan, Korea, Brazil or France for example?  Spiritual or meditative aspects exist in hundreds of other methods from around the world.

HB1550 was about 'simplifying the taxation of amusement, recreation, and physical fitness services."  Martial arts and self defense are not about any of these things and the industries covered under this description are a completely different set of pursuits.  Martial art should have been the ONE activity NOT to be treated as 'amusement', 'recreation' or a game.

When school owners were notified 10 months later, and less than 2 1/2 months before this sweeping change was mandated, they began to mobilize and join together as a community. The result of their grassroots efforts was a bill introduced in the House, HB2334, to fix the issue that passed with bi-partisan support UNANIMOUSLY. 

A great first victory and first step!  

On to the Senate where, despite overwhelming support, the bill was not even allowed a vote by leadership in 2016 due to purely partisan politics.

And we've all suffered because of it.  

Because of this UNFAIR and MISTAKEN law every single participant easily pays an additional $100-$200.00 PER YEAR in TAX alone.  Imagine the financial damage done to FAMILIES with multiple children enrolled… Damage has been done to dozens of martial arts businesses due to loss of members and a slowdown in new participants…

A very small group of dedicated martial arts leaders continued to work on the issue through the summer and fall of 2016 and continued to financially support and raise funds to keep our lobbyists working in Olympia.



Good news!

RIGHT NOW new legislation has been introduced in the House of Representatives AND the Senate to fix this. There is overwhelming bi-partisan support and dozens of sponsors! We have Rep. Cindy Ryu (D) in the House and Sen. Judy Warnick (R) in the Senate to thank for being leaders and prime-sponsors.  We need your help to demand a vote.

It's hopeful!

Read this background written by Rep. Cindy Ryu who voted for the legislation that CAUSED this problem AND has sponsored the bills in 2016 and 2017 to FIX IT:

“In 2015, HB 1550 (Carlyle) passed with overwhelming support of the Legislature. The goals were to clarify and fine tune a section of the state tax code by providing an easy to follow list of things that qualify as physical fitness that are subject to sales tax. The rest of the items are classified as service and are not subject to sales tax. The bill did not provide an exemption; we simply tried to clarify what is and is not subject to sales tax.

The unintended consequence was that martial arts lessons became subject to sales tax beginning in January, 2016 – which was never the intention of some of us who voted for HB 1550. Taxing martial arts lessons outside of fitness club settings were never brought up in the 2015 Finance Committee hearing nor during the House Floor debate. So this bill is trying to put the Martial Arts excise tax status back where they have always been for decades – a service and not subject to sales tax.”

This excerpt is from the new legislation HB 1032 waiting to be passed.

“The legislature finds that the sales tax treatment of martial arts training and instruction changed as an unintended consequence of the passage of HB 1550 during the 2015 legislative session. The legislature further finds that under the current sales tax structure, martial arts training and instruction that take place outside of a fitness facility are treated differently from similar activities. It is the intent of the legislature to redefine martial arts training and instruction that take place outside of a fitness facility in order to return these activities to their previous tax treatment.”

Unfortunately we've seen our first setback already in 2017 when the bill seems to have stalled out in the House Finance Committee.

We are concerned.  Lawmakers have a tough battle with the state budget ahead.  We worry now that they've got it they won't want to 'give the revenue back' or are holding our bill hostage to ransom for something else later in the session.

If you are a resident of Washington State by signing this petition you will be asking key Representatives and Senators for support on this issue and ask them to get both bills out of committee and pass either HB 1032 or SB 5220 as soon as possible.

Together We Can Fix This Mistake.

Thanks for Your Support,

Washington State Martial Art School Owners

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