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2013 IN REVIEW: Nutter Administration Attempts To Tax Lap Dances

By Mike Dunn

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – The Nutter Administration raised eyebrows when officials tried to bring in a new source of revenue by taxing lap dances at strip clubs. The clubs, though, didn’t take this sitting down.

Three of the highest profile gentlemen’s clubs in Philly — Delilah’s, Club Risque and Cheerleaders — suddenly found themselves hit, for the first time ever, with tax bills for years of lap dances, amounting to hundreds of thousands of dollars.

The Nutter Administration argued that the city’s amusement tax applied to this type of entertainment, but the clubs hired attorneys and appealed to the Tax Review Board.

Attorney George Bochetto argued that lap dances at strip clubs are part and parcel of modern theater, which is exempt from the tax:

“American contemporary theater has lots of exotic type things, sexually provocative things, a great deal of nakedness in American contemporary theater, and are frankly indistinguishable from what takes place at a gentlemen’s club,” he said. “Nudity does not mean its not part of American contemporary theater. Immersiveness or touching does not mean its not part of American contemporary theater.”

The Tax Review Board later ruled in favor of the clubs and against the Nutter Administration, finding that the amusement tax could not be reasonably applied to anything but a cover charge.

But the Mayor decided to appeal that to Common Pleas court, meaning the great lap dance tax battle will continue in 2014.

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