Yesterday, Tennessee Governor Bill Lee announced his intent to repeal the nearly 10 percent amusement tax on gym memberships in his forthcoming budget.
The tax – which applies to gyms, health clubs and fitness centers – has been in place since the mid ’80s and represents some $10 million in revenue to state coffers. It also unduly affects small-business owners. Lee called the repeal “an important step in reducing the burdens on small businesses” in Tennessee.
He added the rapid increase in healthcare costs and Tennessee’s excessive rates of both obesity and diabetes make it imperative that the state do all it can to encourage healthy habits among its residents. “We’ve discouraged Tennesseans from investing in their health and wellness by taxing their efforts,” Lee said.
The Department of Health has ranked Tennessee 40th in the nation in physical activity, and 35th in adult-obesity rates. Estimates show illnesses related to diabetes, heart disease and high blood pressure account for more than $5.3 billion in costs to Tennessee residents, both directly and indirectly.
“I look forward to working with the legislature to modernize our tax code and prioritize the wellness of Tennesseans,” said Lee.