Under the Tax Board’s scheme an employer can, within certain limits, deduct taxes relating to an employee’s keep-fit costs.
Examples of activities, sporting and otherwise, included in the scheme are: gymnastics, weightlifting, bowling, racquet sports, volleyball, football, yoga, tai chi, qi-gong, dietary advice, stress management, massage, jive, folk dance, square dance and jazz dance.
Golf, downhill skiing, horse-riding and sailing however have always been black-listed because they require access to expensive equipment.
Sports minister Lena Adelsohn Liljeroth has come out in favour of changing the current rules to incorporate activities previously regarded as exclusive and prohibitively expensive.
“Today’s limits regarding keep-fit exercise for employees are outdated. Golf can longer be seen as an exclusive sport when the country has 600,000 players.
“There would be no legal amendment necessary to include golf and horse-riding as tax deductible sports. All it needs is for the National Tax Board to depart from existing practice,” Moderate MP Krister Hammarbergh told Dagens Industri.
But the tax board does not intend breaking with its established traditions unless given a clear political signal to do so.
Representatives for the main golfing body hope for a breakthrough sooner rather than later.
“It would mean an awful lot for the sport of golf. It is strange that one of the major sports in Sweden is not regarded as a keep-fit activity when medical experts view it as one of the best forms of exercise.
“Golf and horse-riding are the two most popular sports among women, and it is odd that these particular sports are discriminated against,” said Mats Enqvist, head of the Swedish Golf Federation.