Some people are abuzz about the recently introduced Public Health Investment Today (PHIT) Act of 2009 (HR 2105), which proposes a tax credit of up to $1,000 per year for some people's “qualified sports and fitness expenses.”
The bill seems like a well-intentioned step in the right direction. It also looks like it needs some tweaking.
I read it to allow the entire $1,000 deduction for a single membership to a "fitness facility," but it only allows for a $250 deduction for the purchase of "any item of sports equipment (other than exercise equipment)..."
So where does a bike stand under this law? (Or a kayak, or cross country skis, or climbing equipment, or anything else appealing to someone who finds gyms and fitness centers rather unappealing?) Well, according to the press secretary of the Congressperson who sponsored the bill, up to $250 of the purchase of a new bicycle would qualify for the deduction.
Apparently that means that a bike is an item of "sports equipment," but not "exercise equipment" under the law, therefore limiting the credit for that purchase to $250. Lame.
What about new wheels? Or handlebars? Or a saddle? Is that deductible "sports equipment" under the law also?
So then what constitutes "exercise equipment?" BowFlex? NordicCross? A set of weights?
It also looks like runners get hosed in this deal, as it excludes "apparel or footwear." What else do runners buy, anyway?
In all fairness, though, I can understand the apparel and footwear exclusion because it prevents people from going to the local mall and getting tax credits for the purchase of a bunch of trendy exercise outfits and shoes to wear while shopping or going to Applebee's.
We'll see where this law goes, and what the final version will look like. And we can take take bets on whether Rep. Boehner will publicly mock it.