Florida Considers Repealing Tax Exemptions for Some Fitness Facilities

TALLAHASSEE, FL -- To help combat a $6 billion budget deficit in Florida, the non-profit group Florida TaxWatch presented a list to the state Senate of tax exemptions that could be revoked to save Florida $336 million per year. The list included amusement and recreation industries, including some fitness facilities.

Florida TaxWatch said revoking the tax-exempt status for non-profit fitness facilities, including hospital health care centers, would eliminate unfair advantages for businesses that compete with tax-paying entities, such as private health clubs.

“That is the exact same as [the state] writing a check to the gym that is competing with the person who is paying taxes,” Thad Altman, Florida Senate finance and tax chairman, told The Miami Herald. “That's unfair and it's unequitable and it's one of the things we want to look at.”

During the TaxWatch presentation, Dominic Calabro, president and CEO of Florida TaxWatch, stressed that some tax exemptions, such as those for groceries and economic development, were not included in his group’s recommendation. Florida also does not charge personal income taxes.

“Florida TaxWatch is not recommending that these specific exemptions be repealed,” Calabro told the Senate. “This is a list of some exemptions that should receive further examination by the legislature. Florida TaxWatch does not believe that significant tax increases are the right prescription for these troubling economic times.”

Florida politicians were exploring tax changes that could help fund the state’s education system. The Florida House Finance and Tax Committee just finished a six-week review of sales tax exemptions, The Herald reported. The state Senate plans to start hearing bills on other ways to raise money next week.

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