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Missouri Residents Taxed on Fitness


The Missouri Department of Revenue has determined that gym memberships and hourly training classes are subject to sales tax. Could that extra 4% be enough to dissuade Missourians from working out? Does this contribute to the overweight and obesity rates for adults in Missouri? 69.2% of men in 2011, and 60.5% of women? Or do those extra dollars provide inspiration?

Working out at a gym is a good time for some folks, a necessary evil for others. Some people love their work out, others grin and bear it, and still others know they should work out more and hope the gym membership and class fees they pay will inspire them to go.

No matter why they go, Missouri residents who join gyms and pay for classes at gyms are required to pay sales tax on those transactions. The Missouri Supreme Court has found that "fees paid to a place of amusement for personal training services were subject to tax." This ruling is based on the Missouri Revised Statute that reads: "A tax equivalent to four percent of the basic rate paid for admission and seating accommodations, or fees paid to, or in any place of amusement, entertainment or recreation, games and athletic events." (144.020.1(2)). Apparently the judges believe working out to be a form of amusement.

The Missouri DOR also found that sales tax applies to t-shirts sold at the gym. If gym memberships and fees for hourly classes are subject to sales tax because they are fees paid to "any place of amusement, entertainment or recreation, games and athletic events…", sales of t-shirts are subject to sales tax because the transactions involve the transfer of tangible personal property. (Section 144.020.1, RSMo)

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Gail Cole
Avalara Author
Gail Cole
Gail Cole
Avalara Author Gail Cole
Gail began researching and writing about sales tax in 2012 and has been fascinated with it ever since. She has a penchant for uncovering unusual tax facts, and endeavors to make complex sales tax laws more digestible for both experts and laypeople.