Can Someone Self-Employed Write Off Gym Memberships?

There’s nothing like a solid sweat session at your favorite gym. Joining a gym can help you stay accountable to your fitness goals, is a great way to relieve stress and can even help you stay social. Whatever the reason for joining the gym, there’s one question that many freelancers and self-employed individuals ask themselves, can I write off my gym membership?

With fixed contracts and membership fees, there’s no denying that joining a gym is a financial commitment, and you might think that an easy way to recuperate some of the costs is to write it off on your tax bill. In the freelance world, you can take many different kinds of tax deductions to help lower your tax bill. But some are seen in the eyes of the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) as personal expenses that aren’t eligible for a fitness tax credit.  

Are gym memberships tax deductible?

The short answer is no – gym memberships aren’t tax deductible since they’re considered personal expenses. You typically don’t need to go to the gym to do your job. Instead, it’s something you do for pleasure or health reasons. For an expense to be tax deductible, it must be both ordinary and necessary for your line of business.

Your expenses must be ordinary related to the business and not something over-the-top or, well, out-of-the-ordinary. For example, a camera is a staple piece of equipment for any photographer. While a camera might not be a typical business expense in most industries, it’s a common cost in the photography industry.

The expenses must also be necessary in the sense that there is a need for them.

Thinking back to the photographer, the camera is vital for her business. Without a camera, she can’t capture the photos properly.

So to answer the question, can you write off gym membership fees? Usually, no, unless it’s required for your profession.

Potential cases for deducting a gym membership

Personal trainer

As a trainer, you help others get in shape and reach their fitness goals. Typically, this is done at a gym, and having a gym membership is a common expense. Without a gym membership, it might not be possible to meet clients.

This is probably the same gym you use for your own personal training. It’s best to figure out what percentage you use for personal training and what’s used for business purposes. It would be best if you only deduct the portion used for business as a fitness tax credit.

Body builder

If you compete in bodybuilding competitions and have sponsors, a gym membership will be crucial for your performance. If you use the gym solely to train for competitions, you might be eligible to deduct the membership. If you train others as a bodybuilding coach, you can only write off the portion used for business purposes.

Actor/Actress

In some professions, looks are everything, and keeping up your appearance is part of the job. If you’re prepping for a fashion show or as a marine in a movie, you might be eligible to write off the gym membership fees during your prep time.

Gym membership tax write off for medical reasons

Many people assume you can write off your gym membership for medical reasons. But that’s not entirely the case. While it’s true, you can write off weight loss activities if you have a medical note from your doctor, that doesn’t mean a gym membership.

Medical conditions eligible for a medical expense deduction include:

-Hypertension

-Obesity

-Heart disease  

Weight loss activities include group workout classes at a gym that support weight loss or provide a support group. You can write off the fees for those classes since they usually come at an additional cost. But simply writing off the entire gym membership won’t fly.

Other possible write-offs

Although writing off your gym membership might not be possible, there are other deductions you can take to save money on taxes. For example, if you have a home office and use it as your primary workplace, you can claim the home office deduction. Or, if you need to meet clients outside of your home office, you can claim a mileage deduction and write off the meal as a business meal expense. Using a self employment tax calculator can come in handy to see how much you’ll owe before taking any deductions.

Some other possible deductions for freelancers:

-Education expenses

-Health insurance premiums

-Cell phone bill

-Business travel expenses

-Interest earned from banks

Finding deductions as a freelancer can seem like an endless task of keeping track of your receipts and figuring out what counts as a write-off. But FlyFin’s A.I. makes that process automatic. The powerful A.I.-powered tax engine finds every possible deduction for you, saving you time and money. Plus, CPAs are available to answer any tax-related questions. So the next time you’re wondering if you can write off an expense, check out FlyFin.  




FlyFin CPA Team

FlyFin CPA Team

With a combined 150 years of experience, FlyFin's CPA tax team includes tax CPAs, IRS Enrolled Agents and other tax professionals, offering users the most comprehensive tax advice and preparation.

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