Namaste, Ohio sales tax is not owed on membership fees for instructor-led fitness classes

Buckingham, Doolittle & Burroughs, LLC
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Buckingham, Doolittle & Burroughs, LLCyogaOhio generally taxes gym, athletic club, and health spa memberships that allow members to use the facility for physical exercise. R.C. 5739.01(B)(3)(n) & (r). However, with the growing popularity of group fitness classes, the issue arose whether fees for unlimited access to instructor-led classes are taxable. The Ohio Department of Taxation recently answered this question – these membership fees are not taxable.

The Department’s new regulation clarifies that memberships entitling one to use of a facility only during organized instructor-led classes are not taxable physical fitness facility services. Ohio Admin. Code 5703-9-62. This means your membership to places like a yoga studio, Orangetheory, Title Boxing, Crossfit, and numerous other places that provide fitness classes are not subject to sales tax. This is because the member is not entitled to open use of the facility, but rather may only attend fitness classes.

Ohio sales tax is imposed on membership dues paid for the right to use all or part of a physical fitness facility. Essentially, monthly or annual fees paid for the unlimited use of gyms and other fitness facilities are taxable. But fees paid for instructor-led classes, even if unlimited, are not taxable because the member does not have open access to the facility. Moreover, “user fees” such as charges for hourly court rentals, instructor-led classes, sessions with a personal trainer, or passes for one-time use or a limited number of classes are not taxable.

To illustrate the rule, consider a gym that charges a registration fee to secure the member’s spot, a monthly membership fee for unlimited use of the facilities, an optional monthly fee to attend 10 instructor-led classes a month, and a separate fee to attend a substance abuse lecture. The registration fee and monthly membership dues are taxable, while the optional fees for the instructor-led classes and substance abuse lecture are exempt.

The administrative rule also provides that fitness facilities cannot claim an exemption for purchases of equipment or supplies used or consumed to provide physical fitness services.

Gyms and other fitness facilities should analyze their offerings to determine their sales tax obligations relative to the services they provide.

DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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