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Backlash From Health Clubs

A proposal to apply the state sales tax to health club memberships has exercised fitness buffs in Maryland.
As the result of a lobbying campaign orchestrated by health clubs, lawmakers are getting a raft of email protesting Gov. Martin O'Malley's plan to starting collecting sales tax on gym memberships. The sales tax rate is currently 5 percent but would rise to 6 percent under a separate proposal.

"I AM FAT AND TRY TO WORK OUT," a Silver Spring resident wrote to Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller Jr. (D-Calvert), threatening to cancel his gym membership if lawmakers pass O'Malley's plan. "IF YOU TAX, I COULD DIE BECAUSE I WILL NOT PAY THIS TAX."

House Speaker Michael E. Busch (D-Anne Arundel) received an appeal from a mother of two in Arnold who joined a gym after her husband was deployed to Iraq.

"On a military salary, we can barely afford to add the gym to our lifestyle," she wrote. "It has, however, changed our lives. I now set a good healthy example for my kids. The gym has led us to better eating habits and a more active lifestyle."

Miller recently predicted the proposal, which is the subject of a hearing on Thursday, would not survive legislative scrutiny. O'Malley has also proposed applying the sales tax to tanning salons and property management services.

By Anne Bartlett  |  October 30, 2007; 5:41 PM ET
Categories:  John Wagner  
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