Congress is moving forward with legislation that would promote fitness by offering tax breaks on everything from fitness equipment to yoga classes.
The PHIT (Personal Health Investment Today) Act passed through the House Ways and Means Committee in a 28-to-7 vote.
The bipartisan legislation would allow Americans to use up to $500 annually from their pre-tax Health Savings Accounts and Flexible Spending Accounts on things like gym memberships and fitness equipment. Specifically, the bill earmarks for tax breaks things such as: fitness & exercise classes; sport/activity camps and clinics; youth & adult sports registration fees; sports and fitness equipment solely used to participate in a physical activity; instructional lessons and clinics; running & fitness event registration fees; yoga and other physical activity expenses.
The PHIT Act has long had the support of apparel makers, retailers and other fitness industry players. A Slate report noted Nike as a prominent lobbyist on the bill.
Lawmakers who support the bill argue that the $3.5 billion in tax breaks will actually save the government money in the long run by cutting down on medical expenses.
PHIT America founder Jim Baugh said in a press release that he was encouraged by the progress. “Passage of the PHIT Act will make physical activity more affordable for all Americans, especially families,” he said.
Backed by the Sports & Fitness Industry Association, PHIT America and other organizations, the PHIT ACT could be considered by the full U.S. House of Representatives as early as the week of July 23.