Gyms run by nonprofits in Kansas don't have to pay sales and property taxes, and Kansas lawmakers are again considering legislation that would impact those exemptions.
Last year, the Senate passed legislation that would have given privately run gyms the same tax breaks as those provided to nonprofit gyms like the YMCA. The House didn't pass that measure but is considering it now as well as a proposal to tax all gyms the same.
Lawmakers have been told that YMCA gyms cater to everyone and offer more than just treadmills and exercise equipment. YMCA representatives say eliminating the tax breaks would hurt programs offered by nonprofits.
"It seems like it is an attack on the Y that has been vocalized by the House Committee of Taxation," said Mark Hulet, chief strategy officer for the YMCA.
Under the proposal in the House, nonprofits that make more than 40 percent of their profits from the sale of memberships would have to start paying sales and property taxes.
Rep. Richard Carlson, R-St. Mary's and chair of the Taxation Committee, said the bill is about being fair across the board.
"We are certainly not trying to damage any entity out there that does community service work that helps with the poor, needy and undeserved in our society," he said. "It's just trying to find the right balance between the private industry that does a lot of the same things but doesn't get a lot of the tax breaks."
Hulet said YMCA facilities are much more than gyms. He said they offer numerous free programs, such as teaching Spanish-speaking families how to cook healthier meals.
"Our footprint is in communities that are underserved and would not be served by government entities or private entities in the same capacity that we do," he said. "If the Y went away, many people would be left alone."
Copyright 2014 KCTV (Meredith Corp.) All rights reserved.
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