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New York strip club tax upheld

Sorry, patrons of Nite Moves, but lap dances are not art. So hand over the sales tax added to the admission fee to the suburban Albany, N.Y., club.

Strip club mural by the_toe_stubber via FlickrThat's the decision of the Empire State's highest court.

The New York Court of Appeals ruled on Tuesday (Oct. 23) that lap dances performed at Nite Moves, described in the court's decision as an "adult 'juice bar' in Latham, New York," -- patrons must buy at least two nonalcoholic juice drinks that cost up to $5 each -- were not "dramatic or musical arts performances."

That designation was key to the club's case. Its proprietor, 677 New Loudon Corporation, had argued that Nite Moves shouldn't have to collect sales tax on the fee that it charges patrons because its dancers provided performances that were similar to shows at other venues, such as the ballet or Broadway shows.

Being placed on the same legal stage as such events would save the club money since New York performances deemed artistic don't have to collect sales taxes.

But, decided the court by a 4-to-3 margin, Nite Moves didn't meet the artistic requirements. So the strip club must collect the taxes that also apply to many other entertainment offerings, such as amusement parks and sporting events.

The three dissenting judges offered a freedom-of-expression argument for their view, saying that courts should not define what qualifies as dancing. "The people…paid to see women dancing. It does not matter if the dance was artistic or crude, boring or erotic," they wrote. "Under New York's tax law, a dance is a dance."

That minority Gertrude Stein assessment, however, doesn't do Nite Moves much good.

The club is now facing, reports the New York Times, a tax audit with $400,000 at stake.

In addition to the New York Times coverage, you can read more about the case from the New York Daily News and the Associated Press.

And for a more artistic and correctly spelled rendition of the club's name, check out Bob Seger's unrelated but great song Night Moves.

Photo of mural on a Van Nuys, Calif., strip club
by the_toe_stubber via Flickr

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