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If It’s Good for You, It's Taxable


 Taxable.

In the name of clarity and simplicity, additional recreational services and physical fitness services will be subject to sales tax in Washington State beginning January 1, 2016.

The new tax policy is the result of amendments made by House Bill 1550 to the definition of “retail sale” in RCW 82.04.050. According to the Washington State Department of Revenue, “Many businesses providing recreational services or operating athletic or fitness facilities will be affected, including but not limited to:

  • Amusement parks
  • Batting cages
  • Bowling
  • Fishing
  • Go-karts
  • Golf (charges must be separately stated)
  • Hang gliding
  • Horseback riding
  • Hunting
  • Paintball
  • Shooting activities (if instruction is entirely or predominantly in classroom)
  • Skating
  • Snow sports
  • Swimming (unless provided at an athletic or fitness facility)
  • Ziplining"

In addition, “All charges for the use of athletic or fitness facilities are retail sales” and subject to retail sales tax under HB 1550. These facilities are defined as “an indoor or outdoor facility or portion of facility that is primarily used for: Exercise classes; strength and conditioning programs; personal training services; tennis, racquetball, handball, squash, or pickleball; yoga; boxing, kickboxing, wrestling, martial arts, or mixed martial arts training; or other activities requiring the use of exercise or strength training equipment, such as treadmills, elliptical machines, stair climbers, stationary cycles, rowing machines, pilates equipment, balls, climbing ropes, jump ropes, and weightlifting equipment.” Read more about how the tax applies to martial arts services here.

Taxable physical fitness activities are defined as “activities that involve physical exertion for the purpose of improving or maintaining the general fitness, strength, flexibility, conditioning, or health of the participant.”

In short, if it’s good for you or fun, it’s subject to sales tax.

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Sales tax rates, rules, and regulations change frequently. Although we hope you'll find this information helpful, this blog is for informational purposes only and does not provide legal or tax advice.
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.