The United States held the world’s highest obesity rates in 2017, according to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). A Republican-introduced bill will attempt to solve this problem.
The proposed Personal Health Investment Today (PHIT) Act would give a $500 tax break to individual Americans, or a $1,000 tax break to married couples, for making athletic purchases, such as gym membership and fitness equipment. Sports activities such as golf, sailing and horseback riding would not qualify for this tax break.
“The PHIT Act reduces the financial burden that can be associated with certain fitness-related purchases, which would make it easier for Americans and their families to prioritize health and wellness – and hopefully save money on future doctor visits, too,” South Dakota Sen. John Thule said in a 2017 press release.
Only 23 Americans aged 18–64 practiced their recommended weekly exercise schedules from 2010-2015, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The CDC recommends performing at least 150 minutes of physical activity a week.
Americans on average spend $155 a month on gym memberships, according to myprotein.com.
Missouri Rep. Jason Smith introduced this bill in the U.S. House of Representatives on July 6. The House bill has 135 co-sponsors: 71 Democrats and 64 Republicans. The House Ways and Means Committee (HWMC) passed the bill by 28–7 vote on July 12. The bill could move to the House floor as soon as July 23.
Smith and Thule introduced the original PHIT Act in their respective chambers in March 2017. Congress, however, did not pass the original bill.
This bill is part of the Restoring Access to Medication and Modernizing Health Savings Account Act of 2018, which also passed the HWMC.
If made law, it would take place after December 31.