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Should yoga classes be taxed? They may be soon, in New York

Yogaworks Soho
Soon, transactions like this one may be taxed. (Photo: YogaWorks Soho)


Someday soon, New York yogis may see a 4.5%  tax added to their class package total. But they’re not taking it in Savasana.

On Monday, about 55 concerned yogis, most of them studio owners, gathered to discuss the tax, as well as other regulations the city and state are proposing for yoga studios.

In short, says Alison West, the Executive Director of activist group Yoga for New York, it’s a big mess. While the tax would be a burden for practitioners, the the group is primarily concerned about back taxes. The state has begun charging studios for unpaid back taxes even though they never notified the studios that they should start charging tax in the first place.

“At one studio, they wanted to go back and collect three years of taxes, which is an unbearable burden for a small business,” says West.

In addition to the tax, Yoga for New York is also working on issues related to permits for studios, and the independent contractor status of teachers. What almost all of these issues come down to, says West, is that even though yoga studios are becoming as common as corner delis, the state and city have no idea how to classify and handle them.

“What I’ve found is that for studios, dealing with the state and city has become a nightmare, because there’s no clarity on the position of yoga.” Yogis are just asking for a little representation, before taxation. —Lisa Elaine Held