(LEX 18) — A new law imposed sales taxes on 35 new services in Kentucky this year.
Personal fitness training is on the list, and that includes everything from gym memberships to youth recreation, such as t-ball and swim lessons.
"I was shocked," Versailles-Woodford County Parks & Recreation executive director, Richard Pictor, said when he learned the 6% sales tax also applied to youth sports and activities. "Everyone will tell you youth sports are very vital to kids. Not only teamwork, leadership, responsibility, the ability to work with other people, and cooperate. They're life skills they're going to have their whole life. When you start talking taxing those kids in those leagues, it seems a little too much in my opinion."
He said he also believes nonprofits should be excluded since they cater to many low and middle-income families who shouldn't have to bear the weight of the tax to be able to enroll their children in sports.
Mother of four, Ashley Goodrich, agrees the tax should not be imposed on things like swim lessons, which teach children a life-saving skill.
"It's so important that we teach kids how to be safe in the water," Goodrich said. "Why do we have to have this specific thing taxed? It's hard for me to understand why it has to be this."
Hope Shelters is asking the same question. With three kids who each play multiple sports, it gets pricey.
"Hearing that they want to increase and tax us for our kids to be able to do something, it's frustrating," she said. "There's gotta be other areas where we can impose this tax, and not on our youth."
Republican lawmakers have explained that increasing sales taxes will help the state eventually get rid of income taxes altogether. The 5% tax was already decreased to 4.5% as of January 1, 2023.
They believe these tax cuts will allow Kentuckians to keep more of their own money, spur future economic growth, and contribute the population growth.
"It's putting more money back into the hardworking Kentuckians' [pockets] across the Commonwealth," said Rep. Brandon Reed, the bill's sponsor. "They'll be able to spend their money like they see fit. They'll be able to pay down debt. They'll be able to pay for their families."
Goodrich, Shelters, and Pictor say they understand the intention, but they simply don't want youth recreation to be part of the equation.
They're calling on other parents to demand the same by contacting their representatives while the legislature is in session.