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T
OPLISDESIGNS
PICTURE:
Canada already rewards children’s healthy living with a tax credit, and is considering a similar scheme for adults
herman rutgers armando moreira
ehfa • executive director agap (portuguese fi tness association) • board member
“I
n this era of self-infl icted diseases
with huge costs to society, it “I
believe that healthy living should
be encouraged through tax relief.
seems only logical that governments In Portugal, a VAT-reduced rate of 5
and health insurance companies would per cent on the practice of sports and
reward healthy behaviour and penalise physical activities was introduced a
unhealthy behaviour. year ago after a long period of lobbying.
EHFA’s view – as we explained to EU We’ve also recently introduced a VAT
VAT offi cials in October 2008 – is that exemption on the amounts periodically
fi tness, as a health-enhancing activity with paid to be part of sporting clubs/
many proven benefi ts, should be receiving favourable treatment, associations that do not envisage profi t.
with a reduced tariff or no tax at all (some products in the UK, For personal income tax purposes, the taxpayer must have
such as child car seats, do receive a reduced VAT of 5 per cent or an exercise prescription issued by a physician to claim the
are exempt). We are in the process of producing a position paper reduction, which is equal to 30 per cent of the expenses and is
on this issue, although it should be noted that there are no EU capped at 64 (for 2009 tax year) or to 2.5 per cent of other
taxes as such – VAT and income tax are levied at national level. health expenses, if higher.
While tax cuts on an individual basis for taking steps to stay Companies that bear these costs are allowed to deduct them
healthy may be diffi cult to monitor, other EU countries such for corporation tax purposes, and their employees are not
as the Netherlands, Portugal and Switzerland have already liable to taxation on this benefi t.
demonstrated how it can be done successfully via an indirect From a government perspective, there are practical
method – through VAT, for example, or through insurance considerations. For example, the tax benefi ts for people
companies subsidising health club membership and making seeking to remain healthy and active have to be related to the
this subsidy tax favourable – and we believe it would be more ability to monitor reductions in health care costs and increasing
practicable to use these indirect methods.

‘healthy life years’.

january 2009 © cybertrek 2009 Read Health Club Management online 33
healthclubmanagement.co.uk/digital
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