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New Bill would give a Tax Write Off for Outdoor Gear, Sporting Goods, and Gym Memberships

New Bill would give a Tax Write Off for Outdoor Gear, Sporting Goods, and Gym Memberships

It seems that the powers that be are coming to understand what we RVers have known all along: physical activity, especially of the outdoor variety, keeps you healthy. In fact, Senator Charles Boustany of Louisiana and Senator Ron Kind of Wisconsin have introduced a bill to the House of Representatives that would make fitness-related “qualifying purchases” tax deductible.
They brought it before the House in 2015, but it has been gaining support to the point that it looks like 2017 may be its year. The Personal Health Investment Today Act (PHIT) would amend the Internal Revenue Code of 1986. Section 3 of the bill summarizes the goal as “certain amounts paid for physical activity, fitness, and exercise treated as amounts paid for medical care.”

Related Read: Medical Records and Being on the Road

The intention of the bill is to combat the obesity rate in the United States as well as lower medical costs. It accomplishes this by rewarding Americans who engage in fitness related activities and get active. The bill authors posit that every $1 that is invested in fitness or physical activity, effectively cuts medical expenditures by $3.20. This would, in turn, help to lower overall healthcare costs.
Statistics cited in the bill are sobering. It states, “The U.S. ranks last in the world in reducing the number of preventable deaths resulting from obesity related chronic illness.” It cites the increasing epidemic of obesity in America, noting that nearly 20 percent of all children in the U.S. between 2 and 19 years of age are obese or overweight. Furthermore, 8 of the 9 most expensive illnesses in the U.S. are more common in people who are overweight or obese.

Related Read: Medical Emergencies while Camping – Are You Prepared?

The bill also says that according to research, 2 in 5 Americans would engage in more physical activity if there was a financial incentive.
The bill has garnered the support of both republicans and democrats. The Outdoor Industry Association (OIA) and senators are working together to get the PHIT Act passed, possibly linking it to health care reform or tax reformation. We could see it pass as early as the first quarter of 2017.
This means that your mountain bike, hiking gear, even your skiing lessons could all be tax deductible. An individual could get a deduction of up to $1,000 and a household could get up to $2,000. There is a cap of $250 for any single “exercise device” purchase, and fitness apparel and footwear do not qualify. Still, this bill looks pretty awesome!

While I can see how this could encourage people to get active, I also see it as a potential break for RVers. We tend to be an active bunch and this could be a nice perk. Gym memberships for RVers would also be included. There are so many national chains, that would be a benefit to RVers as well.

Related read: Campground and RV Fitness Guide

At least a portion of our RV fun could be tax deductible!

Related Read: Campground Industry Set to BOOM!


So, I ask you, if this bill passes, would you be more inclined to make fitness related purchases, buy outdoor gear, or join a gym? In other words, would this bill have any bearing on your activity level or the types of activities in which you would participate?

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Stephanie A. Mayberry

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Stephanie A. Mayberry

Stephanie A. Mayberry escaped the hustle and bustle of city life in Washington, D.C. where she worked as an analyst, FOIA officer, and technical writer for the U.S. federal government to pursue her first love, freelance writing, full time. She has been a writer, author, public speaker, and photographer for more than 25 years; now she, her husband, and little dog Gizmo enjoy the laid back lifestyle as RV full-timers going wherever the wind takes them. Learn more about Stephanie at stephaniemayberry.com

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