Nevada senator Bob Coffin has proposed a $5 tax on every prostitution transaction that occurs in the state, according to a Las Vegas Sun report. Coffin says the tax would raise an additional $2 million a year for Nevada, and a lobbyist for the legal
brothel industry supports the idea.
I think we will support [the tax], said George Flint, director of the Nevada Brothel Owners Association. There are 28 legal brothels operating in Nevada, along with illegal unlicensed prostitution, and
prostitution is actually illegal in the city of Las Vegas. Coffin's proposed tax would apply to both legal and illegal prostitution.
The proposed tax would be paid by customers, not levied from the prostitutes' wages.
A proposal to levy a $5 tax on sex acts in Nevada has died in a state Senate committee.
The 3-4 vote Thursday in the Nevada Senate Taxation Committee was one shy of the four needed to keep the proposal afloat.
Committee Chairman Bob
Coffin, the Las Vegas Democrat who sponsored the bill, says the state is desperate for revenue and has not collected taxes from prostitution since it was legalized in some rural counties more than 30 years ago.
The Utah Supreme Court has ruled that a state tax on strip clubs is constitutional but that the same tax on escort services is not.
Passed in 2004, the tax levies a statewide 10% tax on admission and user fees charged by sexually-explicit
businesses, defined as any business where a nude or partially denuded employee or contractor performs any service. Utah-produced merchandise, food and drinks sold by these businesses also are subject to the tax.
The statute also levies a
tax on escort services, which are defined as any person who furnishes or arranges for an escort who is compensated to accompany another individual for companionship. An escort is any individual who is available to the public for the purpose of
accompanying another individual for compensated companionship.
Associate Chief Justice Matthew B. Durrant said that the state's Sexually Explicit Business and Escort Service Tax is content-neutral when applied to nudity.
case, application of the tax is triggered by nudity, which the Supreme Court has specifically declared 'is not an inherently expressive condition, Durrant wrote. Because it is not inherently expressive, nudity is unprotected conduct rather than
Regarding the taxing of escort services, Durrant found that the language was fatally overbroad, but opened the door to a legislative revision that included more specific language. Nowhere does the statute define an
escort in terms of nudity, he wrote. The statute also fails to define the term 'companionship.' Therefore, according to the plain terms of the statute, individuals who are paid for providing care for the elderly as well as those who are paid as
tour guides would fall within the definition of an 'escort,' and any person or business who employs them would be subject to the tax.
Another strip club tax is being considered by California's Legislature. AB 2441 is set to place a $10 fee on visitors of establishments that offer alcohol and topless or nude performances.
It's the fourth attempt to tax sexually explicit
businesses in the past four years in California. All of those bills, which would have levied a 20% sales tax were shot down. A tax raising bill requires a two-thirds vote of both the Assembly and Senate.
AB 2441, however, would be the first
legislative action to mandate a fixed-fee pole tax .
JA spokesman for Californian Assemblyman Das Williams said that strip clubs are a good possible resource for funding because there's already a model to tax adult entertainment
establishments. Pole taxes are now mandatory in Texas and Utah, with legislation being mulled for similar tariffs for adult entertainment customers in Illinois, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Tennessee. He said that the bill is on track in the
Assembly and could be approved by both houses in September.
Houston council voted this week to levy a $5 fee on strip club customers of the city's 30 licensed strip bars. This in addition to the $5 fee to the state of Texas when visiting an adult venue, thanks to a law passed in 2007.
The moral tax will be
ring-fenced and put towards analysing forensic evidence collected from rape victims.
Supporters of the so-called pole tax argue that lap-dancing clubs must shoulder some of the financial burden of rape investigations , on the supposed
grounds that their businesses help foster misogynistic attitudes towards women, which can lead to sexual assaults. If they were being fair about it then the tax would have been better targeted at the Catholic Church.
The morality tax was passed by
14 votes to one. The ordinance stipulates that the fee also applies to bars and night-clubs which offer one-off events that could be construed as sexually explicit, such as wet T-shirt contests or naked sushi contests .
Albert Van Huff, a
Houston lawyer who represents strip clubs, told the Journal that the tax is based on flawed logic. There is no known correlation between people going to nice, high-end gentlemen's clubs and rape, he said.
New York's highest court is set to hear arguments on whether Nite Moves , a strip club in suburban Albany, deserves a state tax exemption similar to that for theater or ballet.
State tax officials say the club owes an 8% sales tax for
admissions to the club and for so-called couch sales, where patrons pay for private lap dances, the Associated Press reports.
Nite Moves claims the dances are exempt under state tax law as live dramatic or musical arts performances, which applies to theater and ballet, the AP reports.
New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman's office argues in its briefs that some Nite Moves performers have no dance training and simple pick it up by watching. Such a dancer isn't engaged in a genuine choreographic dance performance when
she removes her clothing, the brief says.
But Stephen Dick, the club's CFO, dismisses the notion that formal training should be any critera when its comes to entertainment.
Two Philadelphia strip clubs are appealing huge taxes levied against them by the city based on a so-called amusement tax that usually is applied to admission fees but in this case someone dreamed up the wheeze that it should also apply to lap dance
revenue. The taxes are not slight, Club Risque was charged $320,538, and Cheerleaders was charged $486,482.
Club attorney, George Bochetto, called foul, accusing the city of auditing lap dance revenue and then going back five years and tacking on
fines. It's over the top. Unbelievable, he told Philly.com:
The clubs, of course, pay business taxes in addition to the amusement tax, and dancers are supposed to pay income and wage taxes. An informed City Hall source says the
city feels it can run an amusement tax up the pole because the lap dance is a separate experience.
Philadelphia's Tax Review Board has voted against Mayor Michael Nutter's Revenue Department and issued a unanimous ruling in favor of a group of strip club owners fighting the so-called lap-dance tax.
Nutter had tried to stretch the rules and
apply the city's amusement tax to individual lap dances. The city claimed that clubs owed back takes on past lap dances.
After six hearings, the board ruled that the clubs did not have to pay for any back taxes and penalties related to the
amusement tax. Board Chairwoman Nancy Kammerdeiner said that the Revenue Department applied the tax inconsistently and that its interpretation of the admission tax was too vague.
Asked whether the administration will appeal the decision, Nutter
spokesman Mark McDonald said:
We will look at the decision from the Tax Review Board and then we will evaluate our options.
Philadelphia officials have decided not to keep appealing in court to revive the lap dance tax.
The 30-day window to file an appeal has officially passed since Judge Ellen Ceisler ruled Philadelphia cannot impose its entertainment tax on what
goes on inside strip clubs. The tax already applies to cover charges at the clubs.
Attorney George Bochetto represents two of the strip clubs the city unsuccessfully targeted for collection of the lap dance tax . He explained:
The fact of the matter is they had no authority to impose this kind of new tax in the manner they attempted to do so. It doesn't mean they aren't entitled to seek the additional taxes, but they just can't do it by
unilaterally imposing it.
If the city wants to tax this activity, it would have to craft a new law. They are going to have to do in a manner that treats all types of interior entertainment equally. So it's potentially an issue
that doesn't affect just gentlemen's clubs, but every place of entertainment in the city of Philadelphia.
Patrons of strip clubs and adult theaters would have to pay a Florida state tax before going in, under a malicious proposal being looked at by state lawmakers seemingly attempting to close down such venues.
The House Finance & Tax Committee agreed
to advance the sin tax bill out of the committee. The measure would impose entry requirements on adult establishments, including a $10 fee on top of any other existing admission charges. Also, it would require the business to keep records
Committee Chairman Republican Matt Gaetz, said the proposal would discourage people from frequenting the businesses.
The proposals have yet to make their way to the Senate. Anticipating opposition because the measure
would hit businesses, House Finance & Tax Committee members said they need to carefully define the proposal.
Representative Mike Hill said that while he agreed with the adult-entertainment surcharge, he was concerned about individual privacy
in requiring the businesses to keep records on customers:
When else, because you're buying a certain product, you're going to buy a loaf of bread, (and) you have to put your name down?
Representative Charles Van Zant said the surcharge should be $10 on night clubs,
where do you not have human nudity, and $25 on those who do. Van Zant claimed that because of connections between adult entertainment and human tracking, the state should collect names.
In the United States, the Georgia House has approved a constitutional amendment imposing a morality tax on strip clubs supposedly to help combat child sex trafficking.
The charge would be $5,000 or 1% of revenue on adult entertainment
businesses, whichever is greater. The funds will apparently go towards a new commission responsible for coordinating services for victims of child trafficking, although details on this are very vague.
Representative Tom Weldon made the bold and
probably libellous claim that strip clubs cause child sex trafficking, claiming:
These are not legitimate businesses. These are strip joints. They are illegitimate and they need to pay for the problem and the cancer
they have brought to each community in our society.
The text of the bill claims that strip clubs are a point of access for children to come into contact with people who would abuse them but offers no evidence of how this
conclusion was arrived at.
Alan Begner, an attorney for several of strip club owners responded that there was no evidence linking strip clubs to child prostitution or trafficking. He said that he will sue if the measure is passed into law.
Both measures must return to the Senate for consideration after revisions were made. According to WABE, voters would still have to approve the fee because the state constitution would be altered if it passed into law.
Alabama State Representative Jack Williams has proposed a 40% sales tax on receipts from the sale of sexually oriented materials as a desperate measure to help fill the $250+ million black hole in Alabama's General Fund budget.
oriented materials are described in the bill as:
Any book, magazine, newspaper, printed or written matter, writing, description, picture, drawing, animation, photograph, motion picture, film, video tape, pictorial
presentation, depiction, image, electrical or electronic reproduction, broadcast, transmission, video download, telephone communication, sound recording, article, device, equipment, matter, oral communication, depicting breast or genital nudity or sexual
The tax hike would be in addition to the state, city and county sales taxes already in place, which usually runs up another 10 percent in costs.
We have created a
class of products in this state that you have to be 18 to purchase and they have excise taxes on them. The state is broke.
Montgomery insiders say it has a realistic chance to pass, as Williams has accrued 26 co-sponsors for his bill,
including Alabama House Speaker Mike Hubbard
Pornographic material and adult entertainment might be getting a lot more expensive in the state of Alabama.
The Alabama House Ways and Means Committee passed the proposed porn tax in a 10-4 vote for an extortionately high rate of tax to offset
a massive budget shortfall .
In addition to any other applicable taxes, a 40% state excise tax will be levied on gross receipts from the sale, rental or admission charges of pornographic material. The tax will apply to any and all forms of
pornographic or sexually explicit content purchased in the state of Alabama, including, but not limited to, pornographic magazines, adult videos, and online adult rentals.
The porn tax bill now heads to the Alabama House for a floor vote.
Thanks to the state Senate, Alabama was able to avoid an anticipated First Amendment lawsuit over its budget proposal, which included an extortionate tax on pornography.
In order to make up a $200 million shortfall , Alabama wanted to raise taxes
with sin taxes. On Sept. 15, the porn tax failed to pass the Senate, during a budget vote in which the chamber approved two budget reform measures while also raising taxes by roughly $86 million annually .
As proposed, the tax on porn was
clearly unconstitutional. The First Amendment protects artistic expression, even if pornographic. Alabama, by taxing the specific category of pornographic material, is directly engaging in content-based discrimination, something the Supreme Court
does not allow. Indeed, in the 1972 case Police Department v. Mosely , the Court noted that above all else, the First Amendment means that the government has no power to restrict expression because of its message, its ideas, its subject matter, or its
content. Thus, regulations that treat a category of content differently than other categories will be held unconstitutional unless it passes the exacting legal test of strict scrutiny.
Strict scrutiny requires a compelling governmental
interest that is narrowly tailored to be the least restrictive means of accomplishing that interest. Absent those factors, a law will be deemed unconstitutional.