This week Representative Jim Buchy (R-Greenville) and Senator Bill Beagle (R-Tipp City) are introducing a bill that would repeal the sales tax YMCA and other nonprofit health members pay for memberships. It is proposed that Ohio’s nonprofit health facilities are operating for the good of the public and provide a needed service to more than 1.5 million Ohioans and that service should not be taxed. These facilities have grown to be a community resource so much more than just a gym. They are community nonprofits that provide chronic disease prevention, feed hungry kids, provide quality early childhood education, and more.
Ohio is one of only five states that tax nonprofit health memberships. YMCAs are nonprofit, tax exempt organizations. Like nonprofit hospitals, YMCAs provide immense community benefits. In 2014, YMCAs contributed over $23 million in financial assistance to those who could not afford memberships. Over 29,000 volunteers donated over $2.8 million worth of time.
A leading program at the Lake County YMCA is the Summer Learning Loss Prevention program. This past summer, we had 28 first and second graders participate in our six-week program to reduce the loss time that occurs in the summer in reading, math, nutrition and physical education. Research has shown that with the Summer Learning Loss Prevention Program, students do not lose 2.5 months of progress made during the school year – they maintain or advance in their current grade level.
Also, the Lake County YMCA is SO Much More. The Y, a charity, provided more than $937,000 in subsidies to youth, adults and families who could not afford the YMCA experience. At the Y, no one is turned away for the inability to pay. With support of the community, we send kids who cannot afford it to camp every year.
A YMCA correspondent explains that Ohio YMCAs should return to full tax-exempt status, as they should be as 501(c)(3)s. Taxing memberships is inequitable and runs contrary to the organizations’ charitable purpose. A YMCA should not have to tax a member to use a treadmill when the Y does not pay tax to purchase the treadmill.