Politics

Philadelphia Slaps Strip Joints With “Lap Dance Tax”

| by Sarah Siskind
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Several gentlemen’s clubs have appealed a hefty tax levied at lap dances in the City of Brotherly Love. The tax, appropriately known as the amusement tax, targets admission fees to certain businesses including nightclubs.

Several city officials were lucky enough to audit these establishments in the spring and offered a tax assessment going back five years. For strip clubs, Cheerleaders and Club Risque, the 5% tax amounted to $486,482 and $320,538; an extraordinarily large sum considering how much of their earnings has been paid in singles and small bills. The clubs have decided to appeal this sum, appearing before the city’s Tax Review Board later this month.

The strip clubs, which already pay business taxes, argue the amusement tax is burdensome and onerous. The tax adds up to $3 per patron. The club’s attorney argues that lap dances should not count as a second entrance fee -- perhaps an intentional choice of words.

Officials defend the tax, considering the service a “separate experience” from the admission to the club. While city officials may consider lap dances an experience on to itself, club owners disagree. Other than this, however, city officials have remained relatively quiet on the matter. Other states have passed taxes similar to these that explicitly target strip clubs known as “skin taxes.”

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With politicians butting heads with adult services industries, the case amounts to the world’s oldest profession running up against the world’s second oldest profession.

Sources: The Guardian, ABC News