Strip Club's Lap Dances Are Tax Exempt, NY Attorneys Argue

By Adam Ramirez on June 21, 2011 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

So your client happens to be a strip club with a delinquent tax bill. And this client of yours really doesn't want to pay a hefty tax bill. Solution?

How about a novel argument that stripping and giving lap dances are "dramatic or musical art performances" and therefore tax exempt? Nice try, but no.

At least, so says a New York Court. Nite Moves, a New York strip club trying to appeal a $125,000 tax on its lap dances from a 2005 audit, reports Reuters.

The court was not convinced, ruling instead that the lap dances were in fact rightfully taxable, according to Reuters.

How did Nite Moves' legal team go about trying to win its case? By bringing in an expert witness: a cultural anthropologist.

You can't make this stuff up.

The expert testified that the dances at Nite Moves were "live dramatic choreographic performances" and used "similar kinds of movements" that are performed on stage, which also qualifies as a choreographed performance, reports Reuters.

But, apparently, the expert had never actually seen private dances at Nite Moves. She based her anthropological observations on watching private dances at other establishments in the past, and on some DVDs that were introduced as evidence by Nite Moves that did not even contain footage of private dances, according to Reuters. 

What kind of DVDs did these NY lawyers introduce into evidence? Carmen Electra's Stripaerobics?

The court also said that the dancers at Nite Moves didn't seem to have received any formal training, reports The Wall Street Journal.

What would qualify as formal, anyway? Pole dancing classes at The Sorbonne?

Still, Nite Moves' attorneys have not thrown in the coconut-scented sweat towel. They plan to appeal their case, reports The Wall Street Journal. So for now, a lap dance tax still exists - but maybe in the future, lap dances everywhere will be recognized as choreographed, tax-exempt artistic performances.

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