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Proposed bill gives tax break for gym classes, with big exception

Photo by Shyam Sharma/Hindustan Times via Getty Images

Gym memberships and fitness class fees could become tax deductible under a new bill proposed by Rep. Jason Smith (R-MO).

But, but, but: The benefits would not extend to those who exercise via paid smartphone apps or streaming services.

Details: The Personal Health Investment Today Act would let individual taxpayers claim up to $500 annually for memberships and classes — a type of deduction that today is only available to those exercising at a doctor's instruction due to a diagnosed condition. It also includes up to $250 in deductions for "personal safety equipment."

  • The goal is to encourage preventative health.
  • It says that "golf, hunting and horseback riding shall not be treated as a physical exercise or physical activity.

A spokesman for Rep. Smith says that the bill would not cover subscription streaming services like those offered by Peloton, which sells at-home stationary bikes with connected monitors that offer both live and on-demand cycling classes. Those apparently fall into an exclusion for "exercise videos" and "books."

John Foley, Peloton's founder and CEO, tells Axios via email:

"We're hoping we'll be included. Scratch that. We're not just hoping. We're looking to lobby to ensure we're included. Feels we should be obviously. I think we fall squarely into 'participation or instruction in a program of physical exercise.'"