“Yoga was one of the six systems of orthodox Hindu philosophy whose traces went back to around 2000 B.C.E.,” Zed said in a statement released on Oct. 1. He later added, “Yoga was the repository of something basic in the human soul and psyche and regulating it was kind of a religious infringement.”
The wellness tax took effect Wednesday and the D.C. yoga community has raised questions about whether the 5.75 percent sales tax should apply to yoga studios. The tax applies to membership of a health club, defined as a “facility for the purpose of physical exercise.”
Members of the yoga community have argued that the tax should not apply to yoga studios, since the main purpose of yoga is not physical exercise. Zed echoed that argument by stressing that yoga is “a mental and physical discipline by means of which the human-soul (jivatman) united with the universal-soul (parmatman).”
Despite calls to exclude studios, the Office of Tax and Revenue will include yoga studios in the sales tax. Action by the D.C. Council would be necessary to alter the tax regulations, though that does not appear likely. D.C. Council Chairman Phil Mendelson said yoga studios should be included in the tax and it was never a question whether they would be.