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Thread: Martial arts lessons taxed

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jan 1970
    Fremont, CA, U.S.A.

    Martial arts lessons taxed

    Now happening in Seattle. Imagine if taxing lessons spreads to the rest of the nation.

    Martial arts lessons now a taxable sale
    By Associated Press
    Published: October 24, 2015, 5:06 PM

    SEATTLE — People who run martial arts studios are just now finding out they probably should have paid more attention to the Legislature this year.

    When lawmakers passed House Bill 1550 to streamline the state sales tax process, one of the changes they made was to reclassify some recreation and athletic activities as “retail” instead of “services.”

    KING-TV reports that change directly impacts martial arts facilities, which are now classified as a fitness activity.

    That means their students will now have to pay sales tax.

    Government officials made an effort to educate the public and these businesses about the tax change, but it’s still coming as a surprise to some.
    State tax law changes surprise martial arts businesses
    KING 5’s John Langeler reports.
    John Langeler, KING 5 News 11:36 p.m. PDT October 22, 2015

    (Photo: KING)

    SEATTLE -- The letter came a surprise to Andy Wilson last week. It was a notice from Washington's Department of Revenue telling him the Filipino martial arts studio he has operated for years was now something new.

    "This just was a complete shock that our legislators and representatives thought all the sudden that we're physical fitness gyms," said Wilson. "It effectively raises our rates by 10%."

    The notice comes from the passage earlier this year of House Bill 1550, which aims to streamline parts of the sales tax process. One of the major changes involves reclassifying certain recreation and athletic activities as "retail" instead of "services."

    It's an alteration that directly impacts martial arts facilities, which had until now been classified as services, similar to yoga or tai chi.

    "By this definition, it's recognized as a fitness activity," continued Wilson. "This fitness of martial arts has always been a byproduct of martial arts training."

    Though Wilson said the change surprised him, state officials pointed out it came after a two-year vetting process by the Department of Revenue.

    "We are a sales tax state," said Rep. Reuven Carlyle (D-Seattle), chair of the House Finance Committee. "The public embraces that. They accept we're a sales tax state. We try to be consistent in those areas."

    Rep. Carlyle said efforts were made to reach out to all different kinds of businesses impacted by the change.

    "I think we did a pretty respectable job (at simplifying tax code)," he continued. "We saved a lot of small businesses a lot of effort, a lot of headache and a lot of paperwork. And we saved taxpayers a good chunk of money at the same time."

    In fact, the state will lose money because of the change, Rep. Carlyle said. And Wilson will pay the state less in taxes with the change; however, his customers will pay up to $15 more per month.

    "How will our students take that extra on?" asked Wilson rhetorically. "It's just not a net positive for our students. We're here for our students, not for anybody else."
    Gene Ching
    Author of Shaolin Trips
    Support our forum by getting your gear at MartialArtSmart

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Corner of somewhere and where am I
    Is not the rallying call of TCM that you are more likely to die of cardiac disease than armed robbery? That its the better choice for health into old age than say, MMA?

    When the largest draw is the proposed health benefits, should it be that surprising to be reclassified as a fitness activity?

    Edit: I predict in the not so distant future we will see a similar thread in the TCMA subsection, once the FDA submits to the cries for greater oversight by those claiming the pharmaceutical industries get by with shady work, only to realize that oversight will now include the currently non-regulated supplement industry (which really does need to be regulated).
    Last edited by SoCo KungFu; 10-26-2015 at 09:50 AM.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jan 1970
    Maybe you can get it back as a rebate for healthy living and practice from the insurance end of things. I mean, if the government is going to be a bunch of greedy and poorly informed money grubbers (such as they are) then perhaps that can be corrected on the other end. If you're staying fit or offering fitness, then boom, insurance rebate.

    Life and the good parts of it shouldn't be penalized. Some politicians and bureaucrats just need a good punch in the mouth.
    Kung Fu is good for you.

  4. #4
    If it's true that they simplified the code and reduced paperwork burden for businesses, then it's worth it.

    And wtf, of course martial arts schools are fitness schools.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Corner of somewhere and where am I
    Quote Originally Posted by David Jamieson View Post
    Maybe you can get it back as a rebate for healthy living and practice from the insurance end of things. I mean, if the government is going to be a bunch of greedy and poorly informed money grubbers (such as they are) then perhaps that can be corrected on the other end. If you're staying fit or offering fitness, then boom, insurance rebate.

    Life and the good parts of it shouldn't be penalized. Some politicians and bureaucrats just need a good punch in the mouth.
    While I personally agree with this, I don't see it happening. If it were up to me, everyone would be doing quarterly fitness tests like we had in the military. High marks get you tax benefits. But that's never going to happen. There are already programs like your idea springing up in various workplaces in the US. People are fighting against it claiming that it constitutes workplace discrimination.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jan 1970
    Fremont, CA, U.S.A.

    The battle wages on...

    Any Washingtonians here that can comment on this?

    FEBRUARY 16, 2016 5:02 AM
    Martial arts academies fight back against sales tax on sport

    Martial arts, karate schools subject to state sales tax for the first time this year

    Owner say sales tax of up to 9.6 percent is causing them to lose clients

    Bill in Legislature would again exempt karate, martial arts from sales taxes

    Chaelee Cabrera demonstrates her technique in a mixed martial arts class at Lenderman's Academy of Martial Arts in Parkland Peter Haley

    Instructors show technique in a mixed martial arts class at Lenderman's Academy of Martial Arts in Parkland. Peter Haley

    Cliff Lenderman, owner of Lenderman's Academy of Martial Arts in Parkland Peter Haley


    A dozen students kneel before Cliff Lenderman as he leads an evening martial arts class, pausing for a lesson that has little to do with kicks or punches.

    “Goals we set are goals we get,” Lenderman tells the group of 8- to 14-year-olds. “Right?”

    “Goals we set are goals we get,” the students shout back.

    The scene unfolds during a Monday night class at Lenderman’s Academy of Martial Arts in Parkland. Lining the walls are Japanese kanji characters representing the seven virtues of the samurai code: veracity, bravery, benevolence, politeness, justice, honor and loyalty.

    Teaching those values is what Lenderman says separates his business from typical gyms filled with weight sets and treadmills.

    It’s also why Lenderman says his academy shouldn’t pay the same taxes as those gyms.

    Right now, Lenderman and other martial arts teachers are pushing the Legislature to reverse a law that subjects them to retail sales taxes for the first time.

    Prior to this year, Washington state regarded martial arts academies as providers of instructional services, and didn’t require their customers to pay state and local sales taxes on lesson fees.

    But a law the Legislature passed in 2015 reclassified martial arts instructors as operators of athletic or fitness facilities — essentially, gyms — which means they too must collect retail sales tax, just like standard health clubs.


    Cliff Lenderman, owner of Lenderman’s Academy of Martial Arts in Parkland
    For Lenderman, that meant he had to start charging a 9.4 percent tax on his services in January, adding about $11 to the average student’s tuition bill of $115 a month.

    That may not sound like much, but for families who have multiple children in karate classes and often pay on an annual basis, it can be a big hit, Lenderman says.

    “I’ve actually had some people who said they have to quit,” Lenderman says. “One of them was a single mom. She said, ‘I’ve been struggling already to make payments, so with that extra $15 a month, it’s too much for me.’”

    Enter House Bill 2334, a proposal that aims to get karate and martial arts academies out from under the sales tax. House members unanimously approved the bill last week, sending it over to the state Senate for consideration.

    The bill’s primary sponsor, Rep. Cindy Ryu, D-Shoreline, says she believes that reclassifying martial arts classes last year was an oversight that should be corrected.

    Last year’s bill allowed sales tax exemptions for yoga studios and tai chi schools. Ryu says she’s not sure why it didn’t also exempt martial arts academies.

    “Martial arts is a little bit different than fitness clubs. The target is different, the market is different, their finances are different,” Ryu says.

    She says most martial arts teachers work after-hours and weekends to accommodate their students’ schedules, and tend to not make much money out of it.

    “If they are covering their rent and a little bit to take home, I’d be surprised,” Ryu says.


    Rep. Cindy Ryu, D-Shoreline, on her bill that would exempt martial arts academies from sales taxes
    Yet state Sen. Reuven Carlyle, D-Seattle, says charging sales tax on karate and martial arts academies in some ways makes sense. Carlyle, the former chairman of the House Finance Committee, sponsored last year’s bill that changed how the academies were taxed, based on a request from the state Department of Revenue.

    Carlyle is one of several Democratic lawmakers who has fought to carefully examine Washington’s system of tax breaks. Last year, he and other House Democrats proposed ending seven tax preferences — including a sales tax break for bottled water — but none of those ideas were embraced by the Republican-led state Senate.

    Carlyle says he isn’t opposed to Ryu’s proposal, but thinks state lawmakers need to look closely at which businesses receive tax exemptions to ensure Washington’s system is fair.

    “The fact is we are not an income-tax state, we are a sales-tax state. And paying sales tax on those type of services is rational, and it’s consistent, and it’s not unreasonable,” says Carlyle, who recently was appointed to the state Senate.

    The Senate’s top budget writer, however, says he is willing to consider giving martial arts schools a break.

    “If it’s something where they think we didn’t get it right, we’ll take a look at it — if we can pay for it,” says state Sen. Andy Hill, R-Redmond, who chairs the Senate Ways and Means Committee.

    A fiscal analysis by legislative staff found that exempting martial arts academies from sales taxes would cost the state about $150,000 per year.


    State Sen. Reuven Carlyle, D-Seattle, on subjecting martial arts academies to retail sales taxes
    Meanwhile, families who take their children to karate and martial arts classes worry about how the sales tax is affecting their tuition bills.

    Jessica Nielsen, who has three children enrolled in Lenderman’s Academy, says she expects she’ll pay about $400 more than usual next month to renew her children’s annual tuition at the school.

    “With my husband being out of work, I don’t know how we’re going to do it,” says Nielsen, who lives in Parkland.

    Others say they have absorbed the increase in their bill, but not without some difficulty.

    Paul Whitfield of Tacoma says he decided to keep his two children enrolled in martial arts partly because of the benefits the classes provide his son, who has autism. Attending karate classes has helped his son learn to control his outbursts, Whitfield says.

    He says the extra $260 he had to pay last month to renew his kids’ tuition was a noticeable increase, though.

    “I’m a retiree, I’m a disabled veteran — my income isn’t huge,” Whitfield says. “If it wasn’t therapy for my son, I’d have to reconsider.”

    Andy Wilson, president of the Washington State Martial Arts Association, says Whitfield’s story isn’t unique. Most parents who bring their children to martial arts classes do so with goals other than getting their children in shape, he says.

    “They bring them here for confidence or focus issues,” says Wilson, who owns MKG Martial Arts in Seattle.

    Wilson says once again separating martial arts academies from fitness clubs in the state tax code would recognize that martial arts are about the mind, not just the body.

    “That just kind of restores the dignity of a martial arts school,” Wilson says.
    Gene Ching
    Author of Shaolin Trips
    Support our forum by getting your gear at MartialArtSmart

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jan 1970
    Fremont, CA, U.S.A.

    Deadline today

    Hopefully someone here can follow up on this tomorrow. If the sales tax stands, it'll set a poor precedent.

    Time is running short for bill to chop martial arts sales tax

    Andrew Hilton, 10, practices his technique Monday at Tiger Martial Arts in Freeland under the direction of owner and sensei Wendi Barker.— Image Credit: Justin Burnett / The Record

    Mar 8, 2016 at 6:00PM updated Mar 9, 2016 at 8:24AM

    Martial arts businesses on South Whidbey and across the state this week are sweating over the fate of a bill that will either live or die by Thursday.

    The bill, SB 2334, seeks to reverse a decision last year that forced the industry to begin charging sales tax for services, while businesses teaching yoga or tai chi remained exempt. Though a house bill proposing the revision passed unanimously in February, its counterpart in the senate, as of Tuesday morning, remained in the Senate Ways & Means Committee.

    The legislative session ends on Thursday.

    Wendi Barker, owner of Tiger Martial Arts in Freeland, said her business doesn’t hinge on the success or failure of the bill, but that it will have impacts, particularly for financially struggling parents who have multiple children attending her school.

    She also said the basis for the change last year, that martial arts studios are more akin to gyms than schools, is unfair and inaccurate.

    “We’re teachers,” she said. “We teach about bullying, self defense — we’re a school.”

    Robert Armstrong, owner of Armstrong’s Tae Kwon Do in Clinton, echoed those sentiments.

    “I totally agree with Sensei Barker, the bigger families will feel the crunch,” he said.

    “And I take insult that we’re not a school; we’re not a gym.”

    Calls to Sen. Barbara Bailey, R-Oak Harbor, who serves on the Senate Ways and Means Committee, were not returned by press time on Tuesday.

    This past year, martial arts facilities were reclassified and required to charge sales tax like gyms or fitness centers. A specific exclusion was provided for yoga, tai chi, and chi gong classes that are held in facilities which are not primarily used for physical fitness activities, such as a community center, school, or standalone yoga studio, according to the senate bill report. For business and operation tax purposes, these activities are classified as service and other rather than retailing, the report said.

    While industry leaders protested the move, quickly criticizing it as being discriminatory to the martial arts and lobbying for the bill, some didn’t even know the state had changed the rules.

    “I didn’t know about it until last week,” Barker said. “The state never notified me.”

    She said she had no other choice but to send her 76 students back bills, requesting the difference over the past few months. It was “humbling,” she said.

    Armstrong did know about the change as many tae kwon do businesses throughout the state were affected and he heard about it from colleagues; Barker teaches Uechi-ryu, and is the only one in the state to do so, she said.

    Bayview resident Kevin Hilton, who’s 10-year-old son Andrew is enrolled at Tiger Martial Arts, said the sales tax is an added cost but that it’s well worth the expense and that the reasoning behind the tax — that it’s an exercise facility rather than a school or educational service — seemed silly.

    “The service that Wendi provides is so much more than exercise,” Hilton said.

    His son has learned discipline, focus, personal development and growth, and how to deal with issues such as bullying without the use of violence. The change in his son’s behavior when he’s participating in other sports that take him away from Tiger Martial Arts is noticeable, such as in the sass or “backtalk” department, he said.

    Leaving the tax in place would be a “huge disservice” to South Whidbey youths, he said.
    Gene Ching
    Author of Shaolin Trips
    Support our forum by getting your gear at MartialArtSmart

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jan 1970
    Fremont, CA, U.S.A.

    an update

    Lawmakers consider a KO on Wash. martial arts tax
    by Lindsay CohenTuesday, January 3rd 2017

    SEATTLE - A new bill proposed in Olympia would lift the tax on tae kwon do and other martial arts.
    Martial arts schools began charging the sales tax on January 1, 2016, after lawmakers reclassified them as "athletic or fitness facilit(ies)."
    The move came as a blow to small business owners who argued that karate, judo, self defense, and other classes are more about discipline and technique than about a workout.
    "It was marginalizing our contribution as martial arts schools, not health clubs," said Andy Wilson, owner of MKG Martial Arts in Seattle. "A lot of us actually take pride in teaching self defense and martial arts and transformation. It's not just about physical fitness."
    Wilson, a board member of the Washington Martial Arts Association, said some students stopped attending classes because they couldn't shoulder the tax, which is 9.6 percent in Seattle -- or just under $10 for every $100 spent. A full-time staff member who left his North Seattle studio wasn't replaced, and the school didn't grow its revenue in 2016, Wilson said.
    "It just instantly hit us," he added. "The whole process is really demoralizing, and frustrating and exhausting, frankly."
    Lawmakers have proposed amending the law, reclassifying martial arts schools, and repealing the tax with a bill proposed for the 2017 session.
    House Bill 1032 calls the tax an "unintended consequence of the passage of HB 1550 during the 2015 legislative session," arguing that "martial arts training and instruction that take place outside of a fitness facility are treated differently from similar activities."
    The bill is sponsored by Rep. Cindy Ryu (D - Shoreline) and has support from legislators across the aisle.
    "It's not a commercial gym. It's a school," said Jordison Foster, after he took a class Tuesday with his daughters that blended Muay Thai and self defense. "I don't bring my kids here to come and get a workout. The actual fitness level that comes from it is secondary."
    Foster, who brings four of his kids to the classes, estimated the new taxes are costing him between $70 and $100 extra a month.
    "I have seen gyms, other gyms that I've trained at close for similar circumstances," he said, "and it's always unfortunate to see that happen."
    The legislative session starts Monday, January 9.
    Olympia also tried to ban martial arts weapons. What is up with Olympia?
    Gene Ching
    Author of Shaolin Trips
    Support our forum by getting your gear at MartialArtSmart

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jan 1970
    Fremont, CA, U.S.A.

    Another update

    I feel for Seattle martial arts schools. It's hard enough to keep a brick&mortar school open and running without more taxation.

    Martial arts studios fight sales tax after falling enrollment
    Posted on Feb 28, 2017 by John Stang

    Joni Sharrah (center), owner of the USA Karate Academy in Shoreline, says her studio has lost nearly a quarter of its students after a tax on fitness centers included martial arts. (Photo courtesy USA Karate Academy via Facebook.)

    The tax sort of snuck in there, Washington’s martial arts studios say.

    In 2016, a 6.5 percent retail tax on physical fitness centers went into effect — and that included martial arts, yoga and Qigong studios. The businesses were swept up in the 2015 legislative rewording of definitions for several types of businesses covered by retail sales taxes.

    The tax rippled through Washington’s martial arts world and the increasing fees led to an apparent drop in martial arts students in the state.

    “Right off the bat, we lost 5 percent of our students who couldn’t afford the tax increase,” said Joni Sharrah, owner of the USA Karate Academy in Shoreline.

    The Shoreline studio lost roughly 25 of its 110 students in 2016.

    “We’re really coming close to the edge,” she said.

    Sharrah has talked with other martial arts studios, saying they have suffered similar losses. “My situation not unique to me,” she said.

    Martial arts studios tend to be small businesses that frequently keep to themselves while featuring disciplines from a wide range of origins — Korean, Japanese, Brazilian and Pacific Islanders.

    Interviewed martial arts studio owners said the 2016 retail sales tax caused their memberships to significantly drop. Many families have multiple members enrolled at the same martial arts studio so the sales tax quickly added up.

    “The problem is we got sort of sucked into the definition of physical fitness, said Rep Cindy Ryu , D-Shoreline.

    Now Ryu — who took Tae Kwon Do years ago, following the steps of her son Cody, until age slowed her down to Tae Bo and country dance — has a bill in the Washington House Finance Committee that would remove the state sales tax requirement from martial arts, yoga and Qigong studios. The studios would be reclassified as “services” and not retail sales.

    According to the fiscal note prepared by the state, the tax on martial arts, yoga and Qigong would be expected to bring in $295,000 for the state in the 2017-19 budget, which would be cut if Ryu’s bill passes.

    The committee has scheduled a decision on Ryu’s bill on March 3.

    Studio owners say they didn’t know about the tax on physical fitness centers until late 2015.

    “There was no notification or engagement with the martial arts schools while the bill was in play. The bill title didn’t communicate to anyone we were on the chopping block or under scrutiny. Therefore we had no chance to make case to argue against the legislation,” wrote Karl Kanthak, owner of Kanthak Karate of Vancouver in an email.

    “It’s caused a lot of people from diverse backgrounds to get together,” said Scott Browning, owner of the Vancouver Tae Kwon Do Academy.

    The MKG Academy saw its membership drop from 202 students in February 2016 to 166 in May 2016. “We had a record number of cancellations,” said owner Andy Wilson.

    Browning’s studio in Vancouver saw an 8 to 9 percent decrease in business last year, resulting in his business’ lowest gross revenue since 2005.

    Ryu introduced the same bill in the 2016 legislative session, which passed the House 96-0, but the bill did not make it to a full Senate floor vote.

    “I think the fact that many of the sponsors of the (2015) bill that started this problem are now sponsoring the corrective legislation illustrates this was an unintended result,” Kanthak wrote.

    Browning is cautiously optimistic that removing the sales tax could lead to a rebound.
    Gene Ching
    Author of Shaolin Trips
    Support our forum by getting your gear at MartialArtSmart

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Aug 2007
    Martial arts are fitness gyms? Ya tell me that after breaking some bones crap ass tax masters

    'Hey look they aren't sitting still, must be this fitness I've heard of.'

    Fatty mcfatterson law makers don't know sheet
    For whoso comes amongst many shall one day find that no one man is by so far the mightiest of all.

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