Melon Farmers Unrated

Pole Tax

Discriminatory taxes on adult entertainment in USA


Updated: Lawmakers with a weak constitution...

New York State lawmaker proposes a 20 dollar tax on all online or offline porn purchases

Link Here8th February 2019
Full story: Pole Tax...Discriminatory taxes on adult entertainment in USA
A new bill introduced late last month in the New York State legislature marks the latest attempt to impose a user tax on porn, or for that matter any sexually oriented media. Teh proposed bill will slap an extra $2 on to every porn download.

The charge would also apply to offline sexually oriented media, adding the two-buck fee to each magazine or DVD classified as sexually oriented. In fact, the language of New York Assembly Bill AO3417 is so broad that it apparently would apply not only to porn, but even to R-rated movies and TV programs airing on pay cable networks such as HBO or Showtime.

That's because the law as written by Assistant Assembly Speaker Felix W. Ortiz defines sexually oriented as any media that features nude pictures or nude performances. And nude does not even mean completely nude under the bill's wording, breasts or buttocks are enough.

The language of the bill is also unclear on whether the $2 surcharge would apply to free porn downloads, such as on Pornhub and similar tube sites.

Update: Blocking blocked in South Dakota

8th February 2019. See  article from

An attempt to block pornography and other obscene material on all personal devices in South Dakota, then charge users a $20 access fee, was voted down Friday by state lawmakers.

House Bill 1154, written by out-of-state authors, raised serious concerns with lobbyists representing South Dakota retailers and telecommunication companies, who opposed the measure in a meeting of the House Judiciary Committee Friday morning.



Censorship tyranny...

Virginia lawmaker proposes a $20 tax charge for internet users to be able to access adult websites

Link Here31st January 2018
Full story: Pole Tax...Discriminatory taxes on adult entertainment in USA
A Republican Virginia lawmaker has revived the nonsense idea to impose a state tax charge on every device sold to enable access to adult websites.

State Representative Dave LaRock's has introduced a bill misleadingly called the Human Trafficking Prevention Act, which would require Virginians to pay a $20 fee to unblock content on adult websites.

LaRock has track record of being anti-porn and anti-gay. He once tore down advertising for an adult bookstore and railed against recognition for a local LGBTQ pride month.

Opponents point out that the proposal amounts to a tax on media content and would violate the First Amendment. The Media Coalition, which tracks legislation involving the First Amendment, sees the bill as nothing more than a tax on content, which is unconstitutional, said executive director David Horowitz. People have a First Amendment right to access this content, and publishers have a First Amendment right to provide it.

Claire Guthrie Gastañaga, executive director of the ACLU of Virginia, said the organization just can't take the bill seriously.



Update: More livelihoods trashed by moralists...

Georgia's electorate vote to introduce a new tax for adult oriented businesses

Link Here13th November 2016
Full story: Pole Tax...Discriminatory taxes on adult entertainment in USA
The state of Georgia voted overwhelmingly for Donald Trump. At the same time the electorate decided to screw the state's adult businesses. Just over 83% of Georgia's nearly 4 million voters voted to enact the Safe Harbor for Sexually Exploited Children Fund, which would be bankrolled by placing additional fines on convicted sex offenders, including sex workers engaging in consensual sexual acts--and an annual $5,000 fee on adult book- and video stores, adult nightclubs, and possibly even adult-oriented boutiques that don't carry any hardcore material.

Georgia's ballot question read:

Shall the Constitution of Georgia be amended to allow additional penalties for criminal cases in which a person is adjudged guilty of keeping a place of prostitution, pimping, pandering, pandering by compulsion, solicitation of sodomy, masturbation for hire, trafficking of persons for sexual servitude, or sexual exploitation of children and to allow assessments on adult entertainment establishments to fund the Safe Harbor for Sexually Exploited Children Fund to pay for care and rehabilitative and social services for individuals in this state who have been or may be sexually exploited?

Georgia is a rather miserable state with cities that won't allow anyone to purchase vibrators and other sex toys.



Updated: State Extortion Racket...

Alabama asks porn users to pay off the state's budget deficit

Link Here24th September 2015
Full story: Pole Tax...Discriminatory taxes on adult entertainment in USA
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.

Update: Taxed Off

24th September 2015. See  article from

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.



Update: Desperate Measures...

Alabama lawmaker thinks that a massive tax on adult products will bail out the state

Link Here30th August 2015
Full story: Pole Tax...Discriminatory taxes on adult entertainment in USA
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.

Sexually 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 conduct.

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.

Williams said:

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



Update: Constitutionally Libellous...

US state of Georgia imposes morality tax on strip clubs justified by claims of them supposedly causing child trafficking

Link Here20th April 2015
Full story: Pole Tax...Discriminatory taxes on adult entertainment in USA
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.



Update: Registered as Repressive...

Florida lawmakers propose malicious law to make strip clubs unviable

Link Here6th February 2015
Full story: Pole Tax...Discriminatory taxes on adult entertainment in USA
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 identifying customers.

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.



Update: Tax Break...

Philadelphia abandons attempts to tax individual lap dances

Link Here26th August 2014
Full story: Pole Tax...Discriminatory taxes on adult entertainment in USA
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.



Update: A Bit of a Drama...

Larry Flynt challenges sales tax imposed on Manhattan table dancing club

Link Here19th April 2014
Full story: Pole Tax...Discriminatory taxes on adult entertainment in USA
Larry Flynt's Hustler Club in Manhattan is suing to keep the taxman at bay by claiming the state violated the club's First Amendment rights by levying fees against dancing routines while letting operas and Broadway shows skirt sales tax.

The government's 8.5% take from the club is an impermissible taxation upon constitutionally protected expression, club lawyers claim in a new Manhattan civil suit.

A state tax rule exempts any roof garden, cabaret or other similar place which furnishes a public performance for profit. Performance is defined as live dramatic, choreographic or musical performance.

When determining what type of venues are taxed, auditor Renel Saint-Amour said:

It is related to dramatics, things that are preformed at an opera house and not in terms of a social club that provides exotic dancers or the so-called gentleman's club.

What is performed at the club is entertainers that perform laptop dancing. We don't view that as a dramatic event.



Update: Nutter Slapped Down...

Philadelphia tried to stretch the rules and claim that individual lap dances were taxable under a tax normally levied on entry charges

Link Here12th October 2013
Full story: Pole Tax...Discriminatory taxes on adult entertainment in USA
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.



Update: Double Dipping...

Philadelphia tax collectors dream up the wheeze of taxing lap dances as well as club entry charges

Link Here13th July 2013
Full story: Pole Tax...Discriminatory taxes on adult entertainment in USA

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

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.

Bochetto says that's double-dipping.



Update: Legal Pirouettes...

Top New York court to decide whether strip club dancing is tax exempt

Link Here6th September 2012
Full story: Pole Tax...Discriminatory taxes on adult entertainment in USA

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.



Update: Houston on a Mission to Control...

Houston moralists vote to add $5 city tax to the $5 state tax on strip club customers

Link Here1st July 2012
Full story: Pole Tax...Discriminatory taxes on adult entertainment in USA

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.



Update: Illinois Pole tax...

Customers to be charged a $3 dollar entry tax to visit a strip club

Link Here25th May 2012
Full story: Pole Tax...Discriminatory taxes on adult entertainment in USA

An Illinois Senate panel this week has given the green light to tax strip club patrons $3; alternatively, clubs could opt for a flat annual fee based on the amount of revenue they generate.

The proposal would affect clubs that offer alcohol and nudity, including topless dancing. The legislation, state House Bill 1645, originally sought $5 a head and no flat fee, but these has now been reduced.

State Sen. Toi Hutchinson, who introduced the bill, said that lobbyists for the adult entertainment industry, particularly the Illinois Club Owners Association, were able to forge a compromise during intense talks.

The Illinois measure, which sailed through the Senate Public Health Committee unanimously, now heads to the full Senate for further debate.


16th May

Miserable California...

Moralist lawmakers set to exploit strip club patrons with a new pole 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.


2nd March

Update: Morality Tax...

Tennessee lawmaker proposes a 25% on adult businesses

A Tennessee lawmaker has proposed a 25% on adult businesses and products that he claims could increase state revenue by $55 million.

According to local News Channel 5, Joe Carr believes the sin tax could help Tennesseans by tapping the state's $222 million annual porn business. He said:

If we can't outlaw it, and the Supreme Court says we cannot, then what we'll do is put a 25% tax on adult material, hard core pornography.

The lawmaker said it's not just about the money, but more about the harm porn is doing to local marriages.

But some Constitutional experts think the proposed bill probably violates the First Amendment. States have a legal right to tax so-called vices like liquor and tobacco but they're commercial products and don't have any First Amendment aspects attached to them as porn does.


1st September

Update: Strip Clubs Pole-axed...

Texas Supreme Court upholds 'pole tax' on strip club entries

The Texas Supreme Court has upheld a 2007 strip club entry fee tax, commonly known as the pole tax , claiming that the $5 charge doesn't substantially impact erotic speech and is justified as a tool to prevent the secondary effects allegedly caused by the combination of naked, gyrating female bodies and alcohol consumption.

Because the fee is content-neutral and satisfies the four-part O'Brien test, we conclude that it does not violate the First Amendment, wrote Justice Nathan L. Hecht for the unanimous court panel.

But as those who've been following this litigation know, the issue of using the fee to combat secondary effects was an idea introduced rather late in the game.

This is just a source of revenue; it has nothing to do with secondary effects, an attorney stated: The lady that authored the bill, when she presented the bill for the first time in committee, said, 'We are not claiming a link between topless bars and sexual assault.' She was specifically asked that question.

That link was contested statistically by a professor at the University of Texas, and it was also contested in the sense of, there was no evidence introduced supporting that theory... There was no evidence that there had been sexual assaults in the neighborhood, which is the basic secondary effect concept. They had evidence from a professor and a former police officer-turned-investigator that talked about sexual offenses in connection with entertainers, and they were assaultive type offenses, but not committed by patrons, and not in the neighborhood.

Of the 169 clubs to which the fee applies, the attorney estimated that more than half could be put out of business because of the fee; that another 30% would be hurt, while just 20% would be minimally affected.


12th June

Update: The Fine Art of Moralising...

Strip club fails in bid to get lap dancing classed as tax free art

Lap dancing cannot be considered an art form, a New York state court hearing a tax dispute has ruled.

The owners of the Nite Moves strip club in Albany had argued the business should not have to pay sales tax on money earned from admission fees and lap dances. It claimed a state law that makes dramatic or musical arts performances exempt from sales tax should include strippers' dances, whether they are on a stage or in private booths.

The five judges at the Appellate Division, Third Department disagreed with the idea that stripping could enjoy the same tax status as ballet and ruled against the club.

Justice John Egan Jr said Nite Moves had failed to establish that private dances were genuine choreographed performances and suggested the strippers usually learned their trade from videos or watching colleagues. He added: The record reflects that the club's dancers are not required to have any formal dance training.

Nite Moves' lawyer, Andrew McCullough, said the club would appeal against the ruling, on the grounds the court had made a value judgement on the artistic merits of lap dancing.


15th October

Update: Morality Tax...

US Supreme Court rejects case against Utah nudity tax targetting just one bar

Expectations were high six years ago when the Utah Legislature enacted a 10% tax on escort services, and semi-nude and fully nude clubs.

Lawmakers predicted the tax on sexually oriented businesses would rake in up to $1 million per year, which was earmarked to pay for sex offender treatment programs and investigations of Internet child sex crimes.

But the potential tax base was whittled down when the Utah Tax Commission exempted semi-nude clubs. And later the Utah Supreme Court struck down the portion of the law applying to escort services.

As of Tuesday, when the U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear a challenge to the tax mounted by strip club owners, just one club remains affected by the decision: Southern Exposure in Salt Lake City, which features full frontal nudity.

There's not enough money in this tax to justify collecting it, said attorney Andrew McCullough, who represents the owner of Southern Exposure.

Charlie Roberts, a spokesman for the Tax Commission that the amount of tax collected from Southern Exposure was not very much.


28th August

Update: Miserable Missouri...

Repressive adult entertainment law to go ahead

Cole County Circuit Court Judge Jon Beetem has ruled in favor of a sweeping law that would impose unprecedented restrictions on adult businesses in Missouri.

In denying a temporary restraining order request Friday afternoon by a consortium of adult businesses, Beetem cleared the way for the law to go into effect Saturday.

Among other restrictions, the law prohibits full nudity and the serving of alcohol, forces semi-nude dancers to remain on a stage and at least six feet from patrons—rendering lap dances impossible—prohibits closed-door booths for the viewing of movies, requires that patrons remain within the clear view of employees, and mandates that adult businesses close by midnight.

According to the Associated Press, Judge Beetem said the coalition had failed to show their lawsuit is likely to ultimately succeed or that they will suffer irreparable harm by allowing the law to take effect. The operative word there would seem to be irreparable. During a hearing before Beetem, lawyers for the businesses insisted that the harm could very well be irreparable, and would certainly seem that way for the employees who will now certainly lose their jobs because of the severe restrictions that are about to be imposed.

But while Beetem acknowledged in his ruling that the law will undoubtedly change the business practices of strip clubs, adult video and book stores and other businesses of a sexual nature, and that they will likely suffer some economic loss, he added that economic loss alone does not alter the analysis of the legal issues.

Update: Setback

9th February 2011. See  article from

Judge Jon Beetem has tossed a constitutional challenge to a state law enacted in 2010 that imposed sweeping restrictions on adult businesses in the state. Despite the ruling, which was anticipated, adult bookstore and club owners say they will appeal the case to the state Supreme Court, where they figured it would end up anyway.


17th February

Update: Poles Apart...

Texas Supreme Court to consider whether discriminatory taxes on adult entertainment are legal

The Texas Supreme Court has decided to review the legality of charging a $5-per-person pole tax to patrons of strip clubs and other adult entertainment venues, a case that has hinged on whether the government can tax content protected by the First Amendment.

The law, passed in the 2007 legislative session, originally directed revenues collected from the fee toward sexual abuse and violence treatment and prevention programs, but it has been mired in legal wrangling almost since it took effect in 2008.

I'm extremely happy that they agreed to hear the case, said State Rep. Ellen Cohen, who sponsored the legislation and filed an amicus brief urging the court to review the matter. If you're going to do this, you need to raise a substantial enough amount of money to make a dramatic effect on issues surrounding sexual violence. The way we fashioned it was absolutely the correct way and the most reasoned way.

The law was struck down in March 2008, by a Travis County District Court judge, a ruling that was upheld in June by the Austin-based 3rd Court of Appeals. The state has collected more than $12 million in fees that have been held in escrow pending the final outcome of the case.

David A. Furlow, a former Harris County prosecutor who has represented businesses in numerous cases involving First Amendment protections, said the central issue is whether the government can levy a tax on speech, such as a newspaper or TV show or dancing in a strip club, that has the effect of singling it out.

When you say certain types of messages and certain types of entertainment can be taxed, you begin down a slippery slope that can allow the government to destroy a form of business by taxing it out of existence, he said. You start down a pathway that could lead to censorship-based government like that which exists in Iran.

To defend the law, the government has been forced to argue that strip clubs lead to greater violence against women, a claim for which there is no evidence, Furlow said. Under such logic, he added, R-rated movies could be taxed because of the violence sometimes depicted in them.


23rd November

Update: Nudity Tax...

Utah court approves 10% tax on nudity

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.

In this 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 protected expression.

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.


9th July

Update: Secondary Rate Nutters...

Nutters defeated in attempt to levy 20% on Californian adult business

A California bill that would have imposed a 20% tax on sales of adult movies and sex toys, as well as the receipts of strip clubs, has been voted down by a legislative panel. The bill was voted down in the Assembly Tax and Revenue Committee.

California Assemblywoman Mary Salas, D-San Diego, sponsored the proposal, which would have sent revenue from the tax to a newly created Adult Venue Impact Fund.

The fund would then have been distributed to local law enforcement agencies in an effort to deal with secondary effects that are supposedly associated with adult entertainment businesses.

Salas' chief of staff, Francisco Estrada, told XBIZ that the assemblywoman was deeply disappointed by the 5-4 vote against the bill: At this point, we're not sure if the bill will be resurrected .


26th June

Update: Secondary Effects...

Another proposed California tax on adult entertainment

A California bill that would impose a 20% tax on sales of adult movies and sex toys, as well as the receipts of strip clubs, has been introduced in the Legislature.

California Assemblywoman Mary Salas introduced the proposal, which would send revenue from the tax to a newly created Adult Venue Impact Fund.

The fund would then be distributed to local law enforcement agencies in an effort to deal with supposed secondary effects that are associated with adult entertainment businesses.

Free Speech Coalition lobbyist Ignacio Hernandez said the bill could be found unconstitutional on several points, including taxation based on the content of a movie: This measure is clearly unconstitutional and unworkable. This bill is much broader than previous efforts to tax adult movie and novelty retailers. Therefore, it suffers from greater constitutional defects than prior bills.

Hernandez said the broad definition of harmful material included in the bill's language would likely be opposed by entertainment organizations like the Motion Picture Association of America.

Specifically, Assembly Bill 847 would levy a 20% on the gross receipts of any California business that is:

  • A retail establishment whose gross receipts from the sale or rental of adult material exceeds 50% of all gross receipts.
  • Providing a public or private viewing of adult material.
  • An establishment that offers live sexually explicit conduct that is prohibited to audiences under 18 years of age or 21 years of age, depending on whether alcoholic beverages are sold on the premises.

A hearing on the latest proposed porn tax bill is scheduled for next month.


10th June

Update: Texas Tax Attack...

Appeal court agrees that $5 strip club tax is unconstitutional

A Texas Court of Appeals panel has upheld a lower court ruling striking down a tax that imposed a $5 tariff for each customer entering a sexually oriented business (SOB).

On appeal, Texas Comptroller Susan Combs argued that the SOB tax does not violate the 1st Amendment nor the Texas Constitution, that sovereign immunity bars suit by the Texas Entertainment Association and that the trial court erred in awarding attorneys fees.

But the appeals court judges had concern over a tax that was a content-based speech regulation and subjected to the strict scrutiny required to determine if the regulation were narrowly tailored to serve a compelling governmental interest.

Evidence that the SOB tax is aimed at reducing secondary effects of sexually oriented businesses does not preclude the proper application of strict scrutiny in this case, the court ruled.

In addition, the court overruled the sovereign immunity and attorneys fees claims by the Texas comptroller.

At post time, it wasn't clear whether the comptroller will appeal the decision to the Texas Supreme Court.


10th April

Update: Cheap Tricks...

5$ tax on prostitution transactions rejected

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.


4th April

Update: High Five...

Texas modifies its tax on strip clubs

Texas legislators have given a green light for a new tax on sexually oriented businesses that would replace a measure that taxes patrons entering strip clubs.

Under H.B. 982, a $5-per-person gentlemen's club fee would be repealed and replaced with a 10% tax to those sexually oriented businesses that charge an admission fee.

The bill, introduced by Representative Senfronia Thompson and endorsed by the adult entertainment industry, passed the House on Thursday.

This bill is unlike the $5 admission tax that has been tied up in the courts since the last legislative session, Thompson told XBIZ: The free-speech issue that has dogged that one has been eliminated with this bill. We are charging a tax, in this case, to do business in the state of Texas.

Thompson noted the proposed tax does not target nude dancing, a form of expression a Texas court ruled is protected by the First Amendment.

She said that the bill was hammered out with the help of members of the Texas Entertainment Association, which is an industry trade association for Texas strip-club owners. She noted that there are 115 known strip clubs in the state.

The bill's target is strip clubs, but it could be expanded to other sectors. H.B. 982 defines sexually oriented businesses to include any commercial enterprise selling, renting or exhibiting items [and services] intended to provide sexual stimulation or sexual gratification to the customer.

Strip owners who have paid the state under the old fee would get a credit toward the new tax, which would go into effect as early as July 1. Thompson said that the bill has moved on to a fast track in the Legislature and could be signed into law by the governor within weeks.


25th March

Update: Screwing More Tax out of Nevada Guys...

5$ tax proposed on prostitution transactions

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.


22nd March

Update: Stripping Out Free Speech...

Florida next to consider a tax on adult entertainment

Florida legislators are looking at next year's budget and trying to figure out how to balance it — and one of the answers they're coming up with is to do it partly on the back of the state's adult industry.

According to an article on, two (unnamed) state legislators have argued that new taxes on sex businesses should be considered, encompassing every facet of adult products from sexually oriented websites to the novelties and lingerie sold at boutiques, to DVDs and magazines sold at adult book- and video stores. And they haven't forgotten door fees at adult nightclubs, either.

No such content-based taxes have successfully been enacted except for a $5 adult club entry surcharge in Texas, and even those proceeds are being escrowed as Texas club owners continue to fight that pole tax. Similar attempts in Washington state, New York and California have been defeated.

It's a vast untapped source of revenue in Florida — one that could be as reliable as taxes on drinking and smoking, MSNBC's reporter wrote, recognizing however that: One barrier to such a tax is that opponents would try to overturn it on grounds it could violate free speech rights.


20th March

Update: Texas Hold 'Em...

Texas continues to tax strip club customers whilst legal action is ongoing

Texas State is holding $11.2 million in fees collected from strip club patrons pending the action of an appeals court.

A $5 fee for strip club patrons was passed into law in 2007, with the money collected to fund sexual assault services in 54 Texas counties and health insurance programs. Last year, a judge struck down the law, saying that topless dancing was protected as free speech and that the state couldn't show a link between strip clubs and inadequate health insurance. The state has appealed, and the appeals court has not yet ruled.

Though the Texas Comptroller's Office continues to collect the fee, only some topless clubs are paying it. Some clubs have argued that collecting the money while the bill is under consideration in court is unfair and affects their cash flow as the economy slows. The $11.2 million collected is lower than the $40 million that legislative analysts projected in the law's first year.

Representative Ellen Cohen, who authored the original 2007 bill, is pushing a new version this year, which drops the charge to $3 and sends all proceeds to sexual assault programs. Lawyers for the clubs say they'll take it to court if it passes.

We will continue to fight until they stop filing unconstitutional legislation, said Stewart Whitehead, an attorney for the Texas Entertainment Association, which represents topless clubs in Texas: These changes don't get them around the fact that they are taxing constitutionally protected speech.


16th March

Update: Funding Legislation Abuse...

New York State bill to tax strip club customers $10 entry charge

Brooklyn Assemblyman Felix Ortiz introduced a bill that would require gentlemen's club patrons to pay the state $10 every time they visit.

Ortiz said the fee could raise as much as $500 million, which would be earmarked for victims of human trafficking, domestic violence, sexual abuse and child prostitution.

We have to protect people who have been victimized by unscrupulous individuals, and we cannot continue, especially in this economy, to have government pay for everything, Ortiz said.

Ottiz' bill has yet to find a sponsor in the state senate.


3rd March

Update: Nutter Tax...

Californian proposal for a sales tax on harmful goods

State Assemblyman Alberto Torrico has introduced a bill that would place a tax on adult entertainment products sold in California.

The tax percentage was not written into the bill introduced Friday; however, Torrico spokesman Jeff Barbosa told XBIZ that the bill is still in the beginning process” and that legislative analysts will provide a tax amount shortly.

The timing of Torrico's proposal comes on the heels of dwindling state coffers, as well as the assemblyman's push to provide a domestic abuser surveillance fund to track abusers and stalkers.

The bill's language, as it stands, only includes a proposed tax on the sale of harmful matter goods at the retail level.


20th February

Update: 4% adult, 96% Nutter...

Washington adult tax canned as unconstitutional

Representative Mark Miloscia gave it his best shot, but his proposal to tax adult entertainment products and services to fund unemployment and welfare benefits is dead - mainly because it's too complicated.

According to the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, Rep. Ross Hunter , chair of the state House Finance Committee, had originally said he'd give a hearing to House Bill 2103,  but thought better of it after remembering that the state had previously signed onto the 2002 Streamline Sales and Use Tax Agreement, whose fundamental purpose is to simplify and modernize sales and use tax administration in the member states in order to substantially reduce the burden of tax compliance.

Miloscia's porn tax bill, it seems, in attempting to put a tax on goods based on their content, wouldn't fly under the simplification agreement - and besides, a tax based on content is just unconstitutional.


12th February

Update: No Brain Politicians...

18.5% adult tax proposed for Washington State

State Representative Mark Miloscia has propose to levy an 18.5% Washington State tax on all visual or audio pornographic materials.

Several other Democrats have also signed on to the bill, including House Majority Leader Lynn Kessler.

Under the bill, revenue collected on sales and use of adult entertainment materials and services would be used to help fund the General Assistance-Unemployable, a safety net program.

The tax would be levied on magazines, photographs, movies, videos, cable television services, telephone services, audiotapes, computer programs and paraphernalia that market porn.

For me it is a no brainier, Miloscia said: People say this will cause business to go out of state; who is going to care about that?

He said the bill was inspired by California, which he said has a 25 percent adult entertainment tax. He said the tax generated almost $250 million for the state last year.

Miloscia said his bill will likely be heard by the House Finance Committee in the coming days.


7th January

Update: Unconstitutional Morality Tax...

Georgia senator proposes tax on strip club customers

A Georgia state senator said that he is thinking of imposing fees on strip club patrons supposedly to help fund programs for victims of sexual abuse. Surely the reality is more moral than charitable.

The legislation, proposed by Senator Jack Murphy, would charge between $3 and $5 per visitor at every strip club in Georgia. Murphy says he would forward the additional revenue to therapeutic programs for victims of child prostitution and other forms of sex-related abuse because the state has cut funding for a lot of such services to compensate for statewide falling revenues.

Although Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle, who presides over the state senate, says he is reluctant to add such a fee because this is not the time for raising taxes.

Many in opposition to the proposed legislation argue that a fee would not only make a difference, but also put many of these strip clubs out of business.

You’re not just putting a tax on the patrons of the adult clubs, said Aubrey Villines, a lawyer who has represented strip-club-owner Jack Galardi. What does it do to the waitresses, to the food workers, to the parking attendants? The people who all depend on this industry for work?

A similar strip-club fee of $5 per patron was instated in Texas in January 2008. In this case, a state district judge ruled in March that the fee was unconstitutional in that it violated the First Amendment.

Murphy says he will announce his final decision after consulting legislative leadership.


14th December

Update: Enjoyment Deficit...

Another attempt at a porn tax for California

With the state facing a dire budget crisis, a California politician plans to introduce new legislation that would tax consumers of adult entertainment.

Democrat  State Assemblymember Alberto Torrico said he plans to push for new legislation that would place a tax on the goods and products associated with the adult entertainment industry.

Torrico's spokesman Jeff Barbosa said the amount of the tax had not been determined, but the legislation could be introduced within a few weeks.

The timing of Torrico's proposal comes on the heels of a similar bill's defeat in August. A 25% excise tax on adult products and productions proposed by Assemblyman Charles Calderon gained no traction in the assembly and died in committee.


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