Tax Analysts Blog

Bored Politicians Taxing Strippers

Posted on Mar 27, 2013

Every once in a while politicians have the need to tax or regulate some aspect of the adult entertainment industry. Sometimes they go after hookers. Some times they go after dirty movies. Sometimes they go after adult book stores. Often the politicians go after strippers. Strippers are an easy target. The “dancers” are not exactly like the Koch brothers or the teachers unions when it comes to influencing legislation. The strip club owners are not in tight with the chambers of commerce. And the customers, well, the customers are not exactly going to mount a protest at the state capitol.

Strippers have been the target of special taxation and regulation in New York, Texas, California, Illinois, Kansas and other states. I am curious, intellectually curious that is, about strip clubs in Kansas because the state seems so gosh darn wholesome. The motivations for the extra taxation and regulation are varied.

Some politicians are morally opposed to women taking their clothes off for money and parading around in front of leering, often married, businessman. Some politicians are morally opposed to men taking off their clothes and parading around in front of leering, often married, businessmen. Then there are politicians who view strip clubs as some kind of sexist concentration camp where women are treated as chattel. There are others who are desperately looking for revenue for schools or roads or other good clean wholesome public services. They have a hard time convincing people to increase real taxes on income, sales, or property. So taxing strippers will have to do. But I think the fire and brimstone legislators, the feminists, and the money grabbers are all in the minority. I think politicians who tackle tough issues like the taxation of strip clubs are bored.

Picture state legislators sitting around. They could delve into the intricacies of health care finance or environmental studies. Or they can think about strippers. I am thinking many would prefer the latter. Last week Nevada Senator Mark Manedo (D) proposed a bill that would charge “nude entertainment clubs” a $10 per customer fee. Nude is defined as fully unclothed or “clothed in a manner that leaves uncovered or visible through less than fully opaque clothing any portion of the breasts below the top of the areola of the breasts, if the person is female, or any portion of the genitals or buttocks.” I am telling you, Senator Manedo and his buddies have too much time on their hands.

Manedo says it’s all about raising money –and he hopes to raise millions. But to justify his asinine proposal he wants to earmark all revenue to domestic violence. If there was a link between watching naked ladies dance and domestic violence this tax might be reasonable. But there is no evidence of a connection. Singling out any service or product because you don’t like it or you don’t want others to like it is runs counter to every principle of sound tax policy.

Read Comments (1)

AMT buffMar 28, 2013

"Sometimes they go after hookers. Some times they go after dirty movies.
Sometimes they go after adult book stores. Often the politicians go after
strippers."

It's just common sense to tax what you know.

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