Strip Clubs Lose Another Round In Fight Against Texas' "Pole Tax"

Categories: Biz, Legal Battles

StripClubFlickrWendy.JPG
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Your friendly neighborhood strip club, it's safe to say, is no fan of the $5-per-patron "pole tax" the Texas legislature saw fit to levy in 2007. Its displeasure has been expressed in two ways: by refusing to pay (the tax has so far raised less than a third of the projected $44 million, prompting Comptroller Susan Combs to publicly urge 200 or so establishments
to pay up) and, through the Texas Entertainment Association, the industry's Austin-based lobbying arm, by engaging the state in a protracted legal fight.

That fight may be coming to a close. On Friday, a state appeals court rejected the TEA's claim that the fee violated the Texas Constitution, which requires that a quarter of revenue generated by an "occupation tax" has to be used to fund public education. Revenue from the pole tax, by contrast, is set aside to provide resources for sexual assault victims (all of the first $25 million raised) and low-income health insurance.

The Third District Court of Appeals in Austin ruled that the levy is not an occupation tax, because "the primary purpose of the sexually-oriented-business tax is not to tax these businesses for the privilege of providing nude entertainment in the presence of alcohol consumption. Rather, the tax's primary purpose is to discourage this type of business activity altogether while also generating revenue to ameliorate the type of social ills that are associated with this type of business."

Rather, it is a "general excise tax," which the legislature can constitutionally divert to whatever purpose it sees fit.

If this whole thing seems hopelessly legalistic, that's because the Texas Supreme Court disposed of the strip clubs' more sweeping argument -- that the tax violated First Amendment protections on free speech by singling out nude dancing for censure -- back in 2011.

The Texas Supreme Court, like the appeals court on Friday, decided that the law isn't directed at nude dancing per se but on combating its negative social impact. The U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear an appeal on the First Amendment case.

Send your story tips to the author, Eric Nicholson.


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22 comments
bin000
bin000

Why don't they tax churches instead. They hurt society a lot more & it's child abuse to expose children to their lies.

sedryn
sedryn

One of the only things I don't like about Texas. Legislating morality.. That's the GOP in general really. Why I am happy to be Libertarian.

casiepierce
casiepierce

Because it's a fact that men go directly from strip clubs to serial raping?

TheRuddSki
TheRuddSki topcommenter

It's been proved that these sorts of establishments are very conducive to vagina dialogs, but can lead to friggin' fracking.

P1Gunter
P1Gunter

The strip clubs lost me when Dallas forced them to ban smoking. If there are two places you should be allowed to smoke its a strip club and a casino.

TheRuddSki
TheRuddSki topcommenter

@sedryn

It's a victory for feminists, as it was in Iceland. NY Gov Cuomo is trying to keep the poorest among us from using public assistance funds at strip bars. When will it end.

The attempt to get rid of them in Dallas is because they attract an unsavory bunch, who haven't won a Super Bowl in forever.

doublecheese
doublecheese

@sedryn  All laws legislate morality.  What you don't like is their brand of morality.

TheRuddSki
TheRuddSki topcommenter

@casiepierce

Because it's a fact that men go directly from strip clubs to serial raping?

Or worse, to the EPA.

TheRuddSki
TheRuddSki topcommenter

@P1Gunter

The strip clubs lost me when my wife banned me from smoking in them.

ThePosterFormerlyKnownasPaul
ThePosterFormerlyKnownasPaul topcommenter

@ScottsMerkin @ThePosterFormerlyKnownasPaul  

It would have gotten 0/5, but the cartoon stripper is wearing red kinky boots.


"[looks horrified] Burgundy. Please, God, tell me I have not inspired something burgundy. Red. Red. *Red*. *Red*, Charlie boy. *Red*! Is the color of sex! Burgundy is the color of hot water bottles! Red is the color of sex and fear and danger and signs that say, Do. Not. Enter. All my favorite things in life."  -- Lola in Kinky Boots

JustSaying
JustSaying

@TheCredibleHulk There actually is a waffle house at the corner of NW hwy and whatever street Baby Dolls is on. I promise that I have never had any smothered and covered hash browns and a chocolate chip waffle on the side at that very location. 

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