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Public Policy Part 3: Get Fit Tax Credit

Posted by Emily Beers on


They say two unfortunate things in life are certain: death and taxes.

I say, why don’t we implement a policy that just might prolong death and reduce taxes at the same time?

The proposal: A Tax Credit for the Fit

There’s a famous CrossFit saying by strength coach Mark Rippetoe that states, “Strong people are harder to kill and more useful in general.”

It goes without saying that strong people, fit people (i.e. healthy people) are less of a burden on our public healthcare system. This, combined with the overarching sense that our healthcare system is allegedly unsustainable due to the fact that the baby boomer generation is rapidly declining as they start sinking into old age and eventually decrepitude—so why not incentivize people to get fit, stay fit, and ultimately use less healthcare resources?

In 2009, the Federal Government of Canada issued a tax credit for those who pursued home renovations. The idea was to stimulate the construction economy after the recession. It was a brilliant idea for the Canadian Government, not only to trigger growth in construction, but also to prevent the underground black market cash economy that always goes hand-in-hand with small-scale construction projects, like home renovations. This way, home renovations remained on the books as home owners wanted to take advantage of the government-issued tax credit.

Similarly, this “Get Fit Tax Credit” would seek to reward those who are already fit and healthy—and ultimately less of a drain on the healthcare system—all the while encouraging others to spend money on joining gyms, hiring personal trainers or strength and conditioning coaches—in order to reach the necessary fitness level to pass the fitness test—thus stimulating economic growth in the fitness industry in the process.

Here’s what I propose for the fit tax credit:

A $5,000 tax credit if you pass a basic fitness test.

Two options for testing:

1. Use either the PARE (Physical Abilities Requirement Evaluation) or POPAT physical abilities tests that are already in place with the RCMP and city police departments respectively. These fitness tests are already proven to be an adequate tests of fitness for screening for policing, and testing locations already exist all over the country. Currently, it costs $65 to take the PARE test; continuing to charge this fee to anyone interested in the tax credit would generate additional revenue for the government in the process. Pass-fail time standards would be predetermined based on a person’s age and gender.

2. A second option would be to sanction strength and conditioning coaches or personal trainers to administer the predetermined fitness test associated with the tax credit (the government could also charge private fitness companies and/or trainers and coaches to become sanctioned). From there, trainers would charge market rates for individuals to take the fitness test. Maybe it’s a PARE-like test, or maybe it’s a combination of three or four tests, such as a 400-meter ball run (minimum score to pass would be, for example, sub-2 minutes with a 12-lb. ball for women and a 20 lb. ball for men), combined with Tabata Squats (minimum score of 14 on all 8 Tabata intervals to pass) combined with a push-up and pull-up test. 

Other Option: Two-tiered tax credit. For example, if you hit a Level 1 fitness level, you might receive a $3,000 tax credit, while a Level 2 fitness level would qualify you for a $5,000 tax credit.

I know the kind of backlash that will come with this kind of arguably discriminatory tax credit. What about people who are unable to run due to injury, or have a physical disability of some kind? 

To that, I say, what about those who don’t own homes to renovate? They weren’t eligible for the home renovations tax credit.

Life hands us all a different decks of cards. It’s just the way it is. Some people work their asses off to earn a living and build a million dollar home. Others focus on their health and fitness to live healthy lives in order to hopefully avoid diseases associated with being overweight and unfit, such as diabetes and heart disease. Both the million dollar home owner and the fitness-focused individual are valuable to society in different ways, and I don’t believe we should base our tax-based policies on being fair and politically correct. 

If a positive result can be achieved from an incentive-based tax credit, then I believe it’s a win for all tax payers.

A fitness-based tax credit has the potential to generate a more fit population who is less of a burden to the healthcare system, as well as stimulate the fitness industry’s economy by increasing demand for strength and conditioning coaches.

 

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