If the PHIT Act is passed by both the House and Senate it would make health club memberships reimbursable using pretax dollars in health savings accounts and flexible spending accounts Photo by Thinkstock

If the PHIT Act is passed by both the House and Senate, it would make health club memberships reimbursable using pre-tax dollars in health savings accounts and flexible spending accounts. (Photo by Thinkstock.)

Fitness Groups Ask for PHIT Act Support after Bill Introduced in U.S. Senate for First Time

The PHIT Act was introduced in the U.S. Senate last week, and fitness industry groups are asking people in the fitness industry to urge their senators to pass the bill.

The PHIT Act was introduced in the U.S. Senate last week, and fitness industry groups are asking people in the fitness industry to urge their senators to pass the bill.

The Personal Health Investment Today (PHIT) Act was introduced as S.2218 in the Senate by senators Chris Murphy (D-CT), John Thune (R-SD), Johnny Isakson (R-GA) and Joe Donnelly (D-IN).

A PHIT Act bill has been introduced before in the U.S. House of Representatives, including H.R. 1218, which was introduced in March, but this is the first time it has been introduced in the Senate. The Senate bill is a companion bill to the House bill.

The PHIT Act would amend the IRS code to allow for a medical care tax deduction on qualified purchases for up to $1,000 per taxpayer or $2,000 for married couples filing jointly or heads of household, according to a release from the four senators.

Expanding the medical expense definition would make physical activity expenses reimbursable using pre-tax dollars in health savings accounts (HSAs) and flexible spending accounts (FSAs) and would allow consumers to deduct physical activity costs once they meet the 10 percent of income threshold on medical expenses.

Eligible expenses would include gym memberships, fitness and exercise classes, youth and adult sports registration fees, camps and clinics, and sports and fitness equipment solely used to participate in a physical activity, according to a media release from the Sports & Fitness Industry Association (SFIA). 

Eligible expenses would not include expenses at private clubs or facilities that include golf, hunting, sailing, or riding. For sports equipment, reimbursement for a single item cannot exceed $250 and pre-tax dollars cannot be used for apparel or footwear.

"We're happy to have reached this milestone, but our work to increase physical activity in America will continue until the PHIT Act gets passed," Bill Sells, vice president of government and public affairs for SFIA, said in a release from the organization. "The future health of Americans depends on healthy, active lifestyles and the PHIT Act will help lower the financial barrier of being active."

Over the next several months, PHIT America, SFIA and the PHIT Act Coalition partners will further ignite efforts on Capitol Hill to pass the PHIT Act with a national social media campaign that the groups are using to increase awareness of the PHIT Act at the grassroots level and generate a national call to action to get the PHIT Act passed.

The groups are urging people in the industry to contact their members of Congress to ask them to pass the PHIT Act. Anyone wanting to do so can go to PassThePHITAct.org and put in their zip code. An email urging passage of the bill will go directly to the offices of Congress members for that zip code. 

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