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Yoga Studios Breathe Sigh of Tax Relief

Friday, July 27, 2012

Some yoga practitioners in the city are being spared a tax burden. After months of confusion and miscommunication, the State Department of Taxation and Finance has decided not to tax yoga classes at studios that only teach yoga.

Yoga classes taught at gyms and other fitness studios, including Pilates studios, however, will be taxed, officials announced this week.  The reasoning?

"Our review concluded that the focus of Pilates is fitness, whereas yoga is historically practiced for its meditative and spiritual benefits," said Geoff Gloak, spokesman for the New York State Department of Taxation and finance.

“While many students of yoga do indeed reap physical benefits in the form of increased flexibility, balance and weight loss, these are periphery impacts of a practice whose main objective is spiritual balance," said Assembly member Linda B. Rosenthal in a statement. "I am pleased that State Finance recognized the unfairness in treating Yoga studios like gyms and other fitness centers, and will not be charging independent studios the tax.”

Earlier this year, yoga studios complained that they were being audited and charged back taxes for a tax they didn't even know existed. 

An organization representing yoga studios brought the issue up with the Department of Taxation and Finance, which put the tax on hold until the agency and the studios reached an agreement.

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