Posted by Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) on June 1st, 2009 at 1:46 pm
A bill introduced by the United States House of Representatives in April would allow Americans to spend up to $1,000 in pre-tax dollars in a "flex-spend" account for the purchase of "qualified sports and fitness expenses."
The Public Health Investment Today (PHIT) Act of 2009 (H.R. 2105, cleverly known as the "fit" bill) was introduced by Congressman Ron Kind (D-WI) and lists 12 co-sponsors, including Portland's own Rep. Earl Blumenauer.
According to Rep. Kind's Press Secretary Leah Hunter, up to $250 of the purchase of a new bicycle would qualify for the deduction.
If the bill passes, section 213(d) of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 would be amended to include a subparagraph for, "qualified sports and fitness expenses." Expenses covered under the new law would include; membership at a fitness center, participation or instruction in a program of physical exercise or physical activity, and "equipment for use in a program (including a self-directed program) of physical exercise or physical activity."
Taxpayers would have up to $1,000 per person per year ($2,000 for families) that could be deducted. Of that, a maximum of $250 per item could be paid with pre-tax dollars.
Hunter says the bill would allow Americans who already have a flex spend account set up as an employee benefit to use pre-tax dollars in this account toward fitness expenditures.
"The PHIT [say "fit"] bill will increase the types of expenditures payable out of tax-favored health investment accounts, including flex spending accounts, medical savings accounts, and/or medical reimbursement arrangements."
The recently passed Bike Commuter Tax Benefit offers only a meager $20 per month subsidy for Americans who choose to bike to work. With this new tax incentive, surely more people would choose to go by bike to capitalize on the health and transportation win-win that they provide.
H.R. 2105 has been referred to the House Ways and Means Committee. Rep. Blumenauer is a member of that committee and he also sits on its Health subcommittee.
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