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'It's a little frustrating': New sales tax hits gyms as Kentucky ranks #2 in obesity

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Posted at 5:00 PM, Jan 04, 2023
and last updated 2023-01-04 17:23:24-05

LEXINGTON, Ky. (LEX 18) — Workouts at your local gym just got a little pricier.

Starting January 1, 2023, a 6% sales tax was tacked onto all personal fitness training services across the state.

"It's not something I saw coming so it definitely took me back a little bit," CycleYOU Fitness and Sauna General Manager Anna Sum said.

Sum said she worries about the tax's effect on people's motivation.

"Everybody in the world has every excuse not to go work out and the second you make it any more complicated or more expensive for people it's so easy to say 'I'm going to stay at home,'" she said.

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Lexington Burn Bootcamp owner Tom Wiley added the new tax is especially problematic during a time of high inflation.

"It's a little frustrating," he said.

On top of that, 40% of Kentucky adults self-reported obesity in 2021, according to the CDC. That's second in the nation behind West Virginia.

"It's a situation where we've got to do better taking care of the community that needs help, and they do whether it's physical fitness or mental wellness," Wiley said. "It all kind of dovetails together."

The sales tax was imposed due to House Bill 8, which requires sales tax for 35 additional services. 

Republican lawmakers passed the bill with the goal of eventually getting rid of income tax, which dropped from 5% to 4.5% at the start of 2023.

To pay for this cut, in part, lawmakers expanded sales taxes. They said once income taxes are a thing of the past, the state can better compete with other no-income tax states and help Kentuckians save money.

"$600 million plus a year off the first reduction remaining in the taxpayers' pockets across the Commonwealth," Rep. Jason Petrie said.

Meanwhile, Sum is trying to stay positive.

"We're really fingers crossed trying to encourage people to stay in their routine, stay in their regimen and not let this discourage them from doing what needs to be done to take care of themselves," she said.

Governor Andy Beshear vetoed House Bill 8 in 2021 but the legislature overrode the veto.