Federal government may move ahead with fitness tax credit for adults
Forget all those chunky kids, the federal government is moving towards paying adults to get off the couch and into the gym.
After months of preparation, the Parliamentary Budget Office has finally come up with an estimate of what would likely cost to create the adult fitness tax credit it promised in its election campaign. The credit would be similar to the children’s fitness tax credit the government introduced a few years ago.
If adopted, the rule change would allow taxpayers “to claim a non-refundable tax credit of up to $500 in eligible physical activity programming costs against their taxable income each year at a rate of 15% (i.e. the maximum annual amount to be offset against an individual’s taxes payable would be $75),” the PBO estimates.
The credit wouldn’t be transferable, so only those actually burning calories would be able to claim it.
The PBO looked at three ages of eligibility — 55, 60 and 65. Assuming implementation in 2014, between 5 million and 11 million Canadians would be eligible.
The average Canadian between 55 and 64 spends $114 a year on fitness programs, while those over 65 spend an average of $76, the PBO estimates.
The proposed credit would cost between $15 and $47 million a year, depending on the age of eligibility. Over five years, the cumulative cost could be as high as $286 million.
All of which is a complete waste of money, say some critics.
"The notion that a fitness credit will get you off the couch is laughable. Legions of Canadians already buy gym memberships they stop using after two weeks, or fitness equipment that now serves as a clothes hanger. Only now, they would get money back for doing so — at everyone else’s expense."
But, if you look at the big picture, it's really a major step in the right direction, others counter.
"If we can get another 300,000 Canadians doing something to improve their health, the $75 cost per person is a drop in the bucket compared to the potential costs to the health-care system if those Canadians don’t become more active."
"Even allowing that the bulk of the tax credit would be used by Canadians who are already active, the total potential cost of the program would still likely be much less than the added health-care costs that would result from 300,000 adults who weren’t trying to improve their fitness in some way."
Do you agree? Is $75 enough of an incentive to get boomers to change the habits of a lifetime?
By Gordon Powers, MSN Money
Posted by: Tanya | Oct 4, 2021 1:52:39 AM
I believe it's a start but they should increase the amount and not only look at the baby boomer generation but people in their 20's, 30's and 40's. If these generations become more active and get fit, the chances of them keeping that lifestyle into their 60's and 70's increases and those people may also have children. So now were talking about becoming role models to the younger generations and being able to be active with our children and setting the example!
Posted by: Terry | Oct 4, 2021 5:25:05 AM
Fitness for everyone and it should be under health care. I see too many people undergoing life threatening surgery and not changing their habits or losing weight. Fitness should be part of medical care as a follow-up rather than just sending the patient home. The $75.00 credit is not an incentive, how can a low income senior afford the luxury of a gym membership?
Posted by: Richard Kidd | Oct 4, 2021 8:52:30 AM
Do golf club memberships count? How about if I buy a new bicycle?
Posted by: Arnie | Oct 4, 2021 10:10:32 AM
I play golf 5 days a week. Membership cost over $1000.00 plus the cost of golf clubs. I walk the course every day is that not a fitness program. This should also be covered under this credit. The credit amount should be at least 50 % of what you pay. I also agree with Richard that any physical apparatus such as bicycles should also be included.
Posted by: Michael | Oct 4, 2021 10:11:16 AM
Wonder if it will get Flaherty and Harper off their fat butts? Don't think so? Me either.
Posted by: N.P | Oct 4, 2021 11:05:40 AM
The average Canadian between 55 and 64 spends $114 a year on fitness programs, while those over 65 spend an average of $76, the PBO estimates
Average Canadian senior or not pays $420.00 and up per year for a gym membership.
So far I paid $11,250.00 since I joined in 1976. it keeps me out of Dr. office.
Posted by: linda | Oct 4, 2021 11:05:47 AM
What about those of us who walk or use home exercise equipment as our main form of exercise?
Posted by: bob | Oct 4, 2021 11:05:53 AM
If you are not concerned about your health no incentive other than you can make a decision to improve it. those that really are concerned are already active.....it is too easy to show the expenditure and not follow thru with the action. (sign up and not participate) the only incentive is the deduction and how do I get it with the least amount of effort. How about rewarding those individuals that donot abuse the medical system!!!! Their improved health is rewarded because they follow thru with the action of staying healthy.
Posted by: Mario | Oct 4, 2021 12:00:58 PM
Really?, this is what our government is concerned with? What about our seniors who are on a tight fixed income? Think about that one Flaherty the next time you're riding in your limo heading home to park your fat ass in your mansion!
Posted by: Cranky Dad | Oct 4, 2021 12:39:54 PM
Fitness clubs scan your pass every day that you go. Is it feasible to give a tax credit of say, 75 cents every time you go to the gym in the tax year, up to a maximum of $75? That would be about twice a week. Might start a good habit that way. Of course one could just turn around and walk back out, but some might be tempted to stay and use the facilities.
Posted by: Tax Man | Oct 4, 2021 1:28:35 PM
Besides Fitness memberships - most males play non registared sports. I will use pick up hockey as an example. 20 guys pay for a block of ice and play every week. One person pays for it - the group pays him individually. Would this be deemed as tax deductible? Or a day at the golf course. I get the idea of people moving or keeping active will save tax dollars for medical issues. The gov't is playing the percentages to try and save money and make you happier. Its a good idea, a reward....but in the end you still pay more tax for something somewhere else to get this credit. My only issue is that I don't have a gym membership - but I spent $1500 on a personal gym set up - I don't see a credit there. I'm sure the players involved will make the majority of people happy vs the minority - its a start!
Posted by: Bonnie | Oct 4, 2021 2:09:28 PM
A tax credit for those who pay to go to a gym. That's great.
That certainly doesn't help those who go for a walk, run, bike, or play hockey, baseball, etc.
Please stop wasting tax payers' money.
Maybe cirgarettes should be made illegal
Posted by: Jane | Oct 4, 2021 2:34:10 PM
Another tax CREDIT for the upper snack bracket. The government should concentrate on leaving REAL MONEY in people's pockets. A steady diet of Kraft dinner, hot dogs and the garbage prepackaged foods that are on sale in grocery stores is a huge part if the obesity epidemic. THE WORKING POOR aren't counting calories. We're counting what little cash is left over when the bills and the basics have been paid... not enough for gym memberships or better (and more expensive) healthy food choices.
Posted by: Daniel | Oct 4, 2021 2:38:59 PM
I work at a gym, and I think this is a great idea (even though I can't stand the Conservatives). There are many that can't afford a membership, and this credit may just make the difference in maintaining a membership. It may also be an incentive to purchase one for someone who didn't plan on doing so. My gym is not-for-profit (government) so I'm not concerned with making more money; I'm concerned with getting more people healthier. I'm not sure if the above estimates include the added tax money more memberships will bring in, thus offsetting the credit costs. I do think it should be more, say 20-25% though. Some people buy a one month membership, then stop as that is all they can afford - this may help. I do understand one would have to wait until tax season to get the credit, but regardless it's a help.
I agree with the above people that a bike should be given a credit, as well. It would be very difficult to accurately prove some costs for credit. Perhaps for the golf idea, you could save your receipts and get a credit on the green fee or something. Not everyone that exercise go to a fitness centre...
I also would like it expanded to all ages. The potential savings for the health care system are huge.
Posted by: Daniel | Oct 4, 2021 2:44:12 PM
To add, the people complaining it doesn't help people that run, walk, etc. outside of a gym, well those are all free. This credit is to offset the cost of a fitness membership. Each person is motivated differently to exercise. I walk a lot, but that's for me and it's free. A fitness centre is just another option that unfortunately costs money.
Posted by: CanadianEmployee | Oct 4, 2021 5:00:18 PM
Back to basics. Why overtax and then return some?
Just tax less.
Let people pay for healthcare.
Having to pay for your poor health is better incentive (to be healthy) than getting a fraction of your tax dollar back.
Perhaps with less tax there's more money for healthy food and more time for tax-free walks :).
Oh, I know, we put a huge tax on couches so people can't afford to sit on them !!
Posted by: Relohousewife | Oct 4, 2021 6:39:27 PM
I cannot believe the government is actually considering a tax credit to get people to get off their butts. Is the government going to rebate those of us (and I believe that is the majority of Canadians) that do housecleaning, laundry, gardening, taking the trash out, etc.? Believe it or not, housecleaning and gardening are good exercise, as are walking, cycling, skiing, skating and so on and so on. Not everyone wants to go to a gym and then there are those of us who would have to drive a considerable distance to get to a gym.
Let's get back to basics. When I was younger, there was no such thing as sitting in front of a computer, television or playing video games. We were told to go outside and play, no matter what the weather.
Rather than a tax credit, why not implement a co-pay for doctor visits. I believe if people had to pay a certain amount up front to visit their doctor for minor ailments, they would consider exercising more to stay away from a doctor's office and those that abuse the systsem would think twice about doing so. Better still, rather than a tax credit figure out a way to entice more doctors to practice in Canada and to keep the ones we already have.
Posted by: Rick | Oct 4, 2021 7:12:07 PM
I'm 65 and I run 5k a couple of times a week. No cost. You don't have to spend money to stay active.
Posted by: Viktoria | Oct 4, 2021 7:15:20 PM
$75 is a laugh. How did you come with that number? Membership to any fitness club is at least $60 a month. I had to stop my membership because of cost + gas + and not flexible programs. Now I’m walking and spending more time gardening. But what about winter? I’m disabled, scare to walk on snow or ice. Prices of membership to gym should by regulated and brought down, so even people with low income can afford the basic as pool for swimming, or use of equipment.
Posted by: Judy Alton | Oct 4, 2021 7:32:29 PM
Hopefully it won't be just gym memberships. There are lots of other activities that promote fitness and have a cost involved. I dance several times a week, lessons and parties. I would like to see some rebate for that kind of expense to maintain fitness, both mental and physical. If it is similar to the children's fitness tax credit it will be more encompassing than just a gym membership.
Posted by: DrVex007 | Oct 4, 2021 9:30:11 PM
Golfers? Seriously. Fitness is about getting your heart rate up. ie Cardio. If walking is the exercise you want to cling to, then do it, BECAUSE IT IS FREE. as soon as you swing a club, (BUZZ) you're out. Now if you want to try turbo golf where you are required to RUN the entire course, I might agree with you.
Posted by: Raveen Bains | Oct 4, 2021 10:20:12 PM
I was waiting for this adult tax credit to arise and finally the government has decided to implement such as tax credit that is still in the works. It could do with some critiquing though. I believe all adults should be eligible for the credit since the obesity rate in Canada is rising significantly. At the end cost-savings would be seen through healthcare cost reductions due to less obese people. On a final note, it should be a tax deduction rather than a tax credit and the amount could be increased to $100 to be more of an incentive for people to hit the gym or take on some other form of exercise in conjunction with maintaining a healthy lifestyle. While mentioning a healthy lifestyle, junk food could be taxed at a higher rate or have a junk food tax introduced to encourage people to choose healthier options and force fast-food restaurants to change their cooking methods and recipes.
Posted by: deborah spicer | Oct 6, 2021 8:28:06 AM
Of all the wasteful, stupid things our government spends money on, this idea at least has a purpose and is based on our tax dollars going towards people that pay taxes. If the politicians can make laws to enforce almost anything, make a law that fines companies that make food that causes obesity and is full of toxic chemicals, then use that money directly to pay good life, or whom ever, to offer free memberships.
Posted by: Granny Lynn | Oct 6, 2021 10:47:09 AM
I am a senior. I walk and play vigorously with grandkids, and despite just average health, I have exercised all of my life. I see little benefit to the tax credit for those who do not play organized sport or something like tennis or golf. If one can afford a gym membership or a golf membership or to play hockey, etc., they are not the ones in need of an extra couple of dollars in their pockets. It is the poor who are unable to buy healthy choice foods, to keep warm in winter and to afford fashionable sport and exercise. I love that my town has a boardwalk for people (seniors in particular) to get out and enjoy fresh air and and exercise that is as vigorous as they are able FOR FREE. If there is one thing that this nation needs for better health of seniors, it is healthier food choices, shorter wait times to see a physician before a condition becomes a problem, and even, perhaps, a place to go learn about affordable healthy eating and more boardwalks. People in the country have to drive to get to gyms, rinks, etc. Is the tax credit meant more for big city folk who go to designer gyms?
Posted by: Millie | Oct 6, 2021 12:13:14 PM
I hardly think $75.00 or any other financial incentive would entice me to go to a gym. Most adults that are already fitness minded are either walking or already belong to some fitness club. - Lots of seniors/adult buildings are equipted with excercise equipment and it is not being used. The money would better be utilize as an incentive to apartment building owners to have programs for older adults. - Those that live on their own will not likely use the equipment if purchased. - Also, how many adults are going to be enthusiastic enough to go out in the winter to excercise. - Lets get real. - The money should be channeled somewhere else.
Posted by: rob | Oct 6, 2021 12:52:35 PM
exercising is proven to lower health costs for individules- $75 would be less than the savings for one health care visit- Exercise is a habit that needs to be formed- the credit should be available to all taxpayers- the younger you are when you start the stronger the habit is formed and the more savings to health care result. We fine people for not wearing a seat belt, but wont reward people for helping themselves, when the public actually is the winner.
Posted by: Guy | Oct 6, 2021 7:53:28 PM
There is a provincial subsidized athletic facility that offers seniors age 55+ and their spouse at least age 50 a one year membership for $65 per year. It offers squash, badminton, tennis, volleyball and at least 30 other activities in excellent facilities. Its called " Huff & Puff". I am a member. I am also a Good Life member and attend. My wife and I cycle and consider ourselves fit and active. I am 62 years old.
I think the tax credit is a waste of money. I can afford to pay for what I need so it means nothing to me. For those who cannot afford to pay for what they would like it is not a motivator. Anyone who wants to exercise and become fit can do so for free. Walk, run, play ball. If unemployed, our YMCA offers free memberships.
A positive motivator is a mentor. That can be free.
Posted by: Gordon Hamilton | Oct 6, 2021 9:16:50 PM
A tax deduction for the fit and an extra tax for the unfit as determined by a health professional at the annual physical check-up regardless of the age. The government would make money on that idea, eh?
Posted by: Stan | Oct 7, 2021 12:52:01 AM
That amount is negligible and the ages for eligibility is even less significant since you want the population to be active as early as possible. If this is about taking a load off our health care system by preventing diseases and injuries then you would want to take preventative measures. What's the point of implementing this for people in their retirement age?
Posted by: Donald Nunag | Oct 8, 2021 1:31:38 AM
I think being selective with ages to benefits this programs is like thinking one direction only. Include everyone anyways this will benefit the economy reason being more jobs can be created, another career will be highlighted to be professionalized, hire additional sports med doctors to assess gym patrons, RMT to condition gymnatics, rental of space gyms, construction industries, and the rest is just infinity.
BUT in the first place why are still allowing those obviously guilty of causing these problems the corporate world of fast foods, unhealthy establishments to continously abuse the already hyponotized patrons which includes Canadian public? Advertisemnts of those fastfood chains should be taxed double than those who create healthy foods and promoting potive sustainable industry..........
Governemnt wants money but has no IRON HANDS to promote healthy lifestyle. Rather visiting corporate american cites please Govt leaders and stake holders visit Nordic cities like Sweden, Denmark especially Copen Hagen they are far advance than a billion or more earner in terms of economy such as Toronto. If govt is really serious of curbing unhealthy practices why not create and reward healthy habits. Gym is not the main solution, the food and the culture of binge eating, hypotized craving, mental manipulation and irresponsible public leads to a troubled PHC system. Have the balls federal, provincial and local officials to really be serious of PROMOTION, PREVENTION, INTERVENTION, RESTORATION, IMPLEMENTATION AND EVALUATION of health practices. if no balls to alligorks and might bussiness sector stop this programs about health because the focus should should be the roots of the problems and so on and so forth.