Do you visit your local strip club to study the artistry of booty-shaking, or just to be entertained by naked people? A New York court thinks you're just there for the naked people. New York state’s highest court ruled in a 4-3 decision that lap dances should be treated like entertainment, not art, when it comes to taxation, Buffalo News reported.
The court ruling was in response to a lawsuit filed by Nite Moves, a strip club in suburban Albany. The state had claimed that the club's $11 cover charge and $20 lap dances were subject to an 8 percent sales tax, but Nite Moves challenged the tax on constitutional grounds, pointing out that New York's tax code exempts "dramatic or musical art performances," the Wall Street Journal reported. The business owed more than $124,000 in taxes, the Los Angeles Times reported.
But the court said that Nite Moves is an entertainment space, not an arts venue. The judges pointed out that other forms of entertainment, such as baseball games, carnivals and ice shows, are not exempt from taxes in New York. W. Anderson McCullough, attorney for the club, said he and his client were very disappointed the decision, the Associated Press reported.
In a dissenting opinion, Associate Judge Robert S. Smith argued though that lap dance taxes have "significant constitutional problems" and are unfair: "Like the majority and the Tribunal, I find this particular form of dance unedifying—indeed, I am stuffy enough to find it distasteful. Perhaps for similar reasons, I do not read Hustler magazine; I would rather read the New Yorker. I would be appalled, however, if the State were to exact from Hustler a tax that the New Yorker did not have to pay, on the ground that what appears in Hustler is insufficiently 'cultural and artistic.'"