The Fitness Industry Is Encouraging The Government To Make Gym Memberships Tax-Deductible

As the cost of living crisis continues to crunch the wallets of Aussies, people are doing less crunches themselves. The amount of Australians cancelling their gym memberships due to financial stress has resulted in lobbyists from the health and fitness industry calling for the government to make gym memberships tax deductible.

The group AUSactive started its campaign with a submission to the government for various fitness industry related tax benefits to be included in the 2024-2025 Federal Budget.

In its eight-page submission, AUSactive presented a case for why the government should:

  1. Give employers an exemption that would let them give their employees gym memberships.
  2. Allow taxpayers to claim a tax deduction for gym memberships and other health participation payments.
  3. Implement a national public health campaign to educate Aussies on the importance and benefits of physical activity.

“It’s absurd and ironic that a taxpayer can claim a deduction for donations to health-related not-for-profit organisations but not to proactively improve their own health,” said AUSactive CEO Barrie Elvish.

AUSactive has made the case that these tax deductions for everyday Aussies would mean that the cost of living crunch doesn’t hit as hard.

It also means that health and fitness businesses such as gyms are able to continue operating without a noticeable drop in revenue from everyone quitting their gym when funds get tight.

“Making gym memberships tax-deductible will relieve cost of living pressures for people who are proactively endeavouring to look after their health and will encourage people to engage in regular exercise, contributing to a healthier and more productive population,” stated Elvish.

In the proposal, AUSactive highlighted that the overall effects of physical inactivity ended up costing the taxpayer $2.4 billion in 2018-019, with $1.7 billion caused by what the group alleged are “direct effects of physical inactivity”.

Source: AUSactive.

However, the total cost and benefit of this submission being included in Australia’s Federal Budget has not been calculated by AUSactive.

Due to this lack of cost analysis, and factors such as other budget priorities, and pre-existing governmental health education initiatives — as well as the fact that tax-based incentives typically benefit wealthier communities, and exclude the poorer ones — the government has not said it will immediately include the submission.

“AUSactive’s submission will be considered as part of the normal budget process,” Health Minister Mark Butler told the ABC.

As great as it would be for everyone to be able claim a tax deduction on their gym membership, unless everyone is taught how to do so, then the benefit is meaningless.

At the end of the day the core issue is education, whether it’s about being healthy physically, or financially.

The federal budget is currently expected to be delivered on May 14.