Tax Break for 'PHIT'ness- Go Online & Support PHIT Bill

The SGMA is confident the Personal Health Investment Today (PHIT) bill will create a win-win-win scenario for the consumer, the fitness industry, and health care in America.
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WASHINGTON, D.C. – August 23, 2007 – The SGMA is confident the PHIT bill will create a win-win-win scenario for the consumer, the fitness industry, and health care in America. The PHIT Bill (Personal Health Investment Today) will create (1) tax breaks for consumers who purchase home fitness equipment, join health clubs, utilize personal trainers, or pay registration fees for organized recreation programs; (2) help lower rates of obesity; and (3) create a setting which is more affordable to exercise, that will result in lower health care costs and reduce the incidence of chronic illness.

SGMA makes it easy for fitness advocates to showcase their support for the PHIT Bill without making a trip to see their local congressman/woman. It can be done online – go to www.getphit.sgma.com. There, you can sign an electronic petition to register your support for the PHIT Bill (HR 245), introduced by Congressional sponsor is U.S. Representative Jerry Weller (R-IL).

“If we can generate significant support for PHIT via the petition, we will take that to Capitol Hill,” said SGMA's Director of Government Relations, Bill Sells. “When we hand-deliver a petition that gets national support, it sends a very convincing message to members of Congress.”

PHIT would change our health-spending priorities from ‘providing individuals with a tax break to offset the costs associated with the treatment of illness and disease once you become sick' to ‘encouraging lifestyle changes that result in improved health.' PHIT provides individuals with an incentive for behavioral change through a tax break for expenses related to organized individual and team sports; fitness and exercise; and recreation and other physical activities. Americans could receive a tax break of up to $1,000 annually to pay for these activities.

If passed, this bill would change the definition of eligible “medical expenses” to include ‘prevention' in the form of physical activity. A broader definition would allow for the deduction of physical activity expenses once an individual reaches 7.5% of their income on “medical expenses.” It also would permit the placement of pre-tax dollars into a separate account, for reimbursement of qualified fitness, sports and recreation expenses – all geared toward enhancing one's health and physical fitness. The line item expenses which could be paid for with those funds include purchases of exercise machines, health club memberships, fitness training/instruction, sports/recreation registration fees, and related equipment. PHIT would not increase the contribution limits for pre-tax accounts. It would only expand the list of eligible expenses.

From an economic perspective, the PHIT Bill can help Americans save anywhere from 25-50% on the athletic, fitness, and exercise costs each year.

From a health perspective, the PHIT Bill is a step in the right direction of fighting the obesity problem plaguing the United States – where 129.6 million Americans are overweight, obese, and/or physically inactive. Also, the Center for Disease Control (CDC) reports more than 50% of American adults don't get the recommended amount of physical activity; 64% of American adults are overweight or obese; and 34% of American children are overweight or obese. In 2003, obesity surpassed tobacco use as the number one preventable cause of death in America.

SGMA, the trade association of leading industry sports and fitness brands, enhances industry vitality and fosters sports and fitness participation through research, thought leadership, product promotion and public policy. SGMA produces signature industry events including the Spring Market trade show, Sports + Technology Convergence, Industry Leaders Summit and National Health-through-Fitness Day on Capitol Hill. More information about SGMA membership and SGMA's Sports Research Partnership can be found at www.sgma.com.

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