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CrossFit Isn’t like Watching a Movie


 It's just like watching a movie.

In Missouri, watching a movie at a theater, learning how to tap dance, and doing burpees at a CrossFit gym are all considered to be forms of entertainment. And when you pay for entertainment in Missouri, the charge is generally subject to sales tax.

Many people, particularly those involved with gyms and dance studios, point out that fitness classes are not quite the same as watching a movie or listening to a concert. They may be fun, even entertaining, but that’s not their point. As the owner of one CrossFit gym said, “How can you place eating popcorn in a movie theater under the same category of CrossFit training?” (News-Press Now.)

At least one lawmaker agrees. Senator Bob Dixon (R) has introduced several bills seeking to create a sales tax exemption for fitness facilities, gyms and dance studios — most recently S.B. 706.

The measure would add the following to the list exemptions:

Amounts paid for instructional classes, training, or membership at a fitness facility, gymnasium, or dance studio.

If enacted as written, it would take effect January 1, 2017.

Work for it

Getting fit isn’t easy. Turning this legislation into law won’t be either. This has been a topic of discussion for years in Missouri. The policy to tax these services has been challenged and the exemption has been proposed numerous times by more than one legislator. The exemption's even been approved, but it has yet to make it into law. Last year, the governor vetoed a provision exempting the fees people pay to participate in entertainment, recreation, games and athletic events.

Whatever is decided, Missouri taxpayers will have to deal with it. It’s their job to keep abreast of changes in tax policy and respond accordingly.

And breathe

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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.