NYC Studios Oppose Regulations

New York yoga studios and teachers gear up to fight proposed tax and regulatory changes.
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New York yoga studios and teachers gear up to fight proposed tax and regulatory changes.

Yoga studios across New York City are offering classes and events this week to benefit Yoga for New York, a non-profit organization attempting to fight proposed taxes and regulations of New York yoga studios.

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More than 50 benefit classes will raise awareness and money for the cause. All money raised will go toward paying for the organization's costs as well as for lawyers and lobbyists to address the issues.

The state is in the process of auditing studios to collect taxes at the rate that fitness studios pay, as opposed to dance or movement studios, which are taxed at a lower rate. Higher taxes would likely translate into more expensive classes, say studio owners—or worse, force some studios to close their doors. The state is also proposing that studios treat their teachers as employees instead of independent contractors, and licensing fees on the physical buildings that house studios, according to Yoga for New York.

"We do see this as a fairness issue," Edward Walsh, a spokesman for the Department of Taxation and Finance, told the Wall Street Journal. "Businesses that provide similar services should be subject to the same taxes in the city."

But Yoga for New York disagrees that studios should be categorized as fitness studios. "We're not like fitness studios," Yoga for New York Director Allison West told Buzz. "We have larger and deeper missions." Part of that mission is to provide stress relief to New York's citizens at affordable rates--something that the tax issue would make more difficult.

In 2010, Yoga for New York was successful in thwarting an effort by the state's education department to charge licensing fees and hold studios to stricter regulation for their teacher training programs. This time, Yoga for New York needs to raise money before it takes on the state, and the benefit classes are just the first effort to do that, West said.

For more information about the taxation issue visit Yoga for New York. A complete list of classes, which are taking place through mid-April, is available at Yoga City NYC.

Do you think it's fair for yoga studios to face the same taxes and regulation as fitness studios?