NY court to decide if lap dance is tax-exempt art

ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) — New York's highest court will consider legal arguments by a strip club on whether nude dancing is an art and deserves a state tax exemption as such.

The case set for oral arguments Wednesday involves Nite Moves, an adult entertainment club in suburban Albany that contested a tax bill of more than $124,000 following a 2005 audit.

Tax officials say sales taxes were paid on the club's non-alcoholic drinks, but are also owed on admission and so-called "couch sales," where patrons pay for private or lap dances.

Nite Moves claims the dances are exempt under state tax law as "live dramatic or musical arts performances." The exemption also applies to theater or ballet. The club is relying on testimony from a cultural anthropologist who has studied exotic dance and visited Nite Moves.

W. Andrew McCullough, an attorney for Nite Moves, said the impact of the eventual court ruling probably won't be widespread because most establishments featuring exotic dancers sell alcohol where other tax rules apply.

An administrative law judge previously agreed with Nite Moves, saying that "the fact that the dancers remove all or part of their costume ... simply does not render such dance routines as something less than choreographed performances."

But the state Tax Appeals Tribunal said the club didn't present sufficient proof that it qualifies for the exemption, and a mid-level court upheld the tribunal ruling last year.

"In our view, there can be no serious question that — at a bare minimum — petitioner failed to meet its burden of establishing that the private dances offered at its club were choreographed performances," the Appellate Division court ruled. The four justices also found "no merit" to the club's constitutional claims.

The appellate court also noted that the club dancers are not required to have any formal dance training and that the anthropologist didn't see any of the dances done in private rooms.

Cary Zeitner, a spokesman for the state Department of Taxation and Finance, said the agency is not aware of any other cases in state court similar to the Nite Moves case.

The court typically takes about a month to issue a decision.
Associated Press
Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


Join the Conversation!

To comment, the following rules must be followed:

  • No Obscenity, Profanity, Vulgarity, Racism or Violent Descriptions
  • No Negative Community Comparisons
  • No Fighting, Name-calling, or Personal Attacks
  • Multiple Accounts are Not Allowed
  • Stay on Story Topic

Comments may be monitored for inappropriate content, but the station is under no legal obligation to do so.
If you believe a comment violates the above rules, please use the Flagging Tool to alert a Moderator.
Flagging does not guarantee removal.

Multiple violations may result in account suspension.
Decisions to suspend or unsuspend accounts are made by Station Moderators.
Links require admin approval before posting.
Questions may be sent to webmaster@wvlt-tv.com. Please provide detailed information.

powered by Disqus

WVLT VOLUNTEER TV

6450 Papermill Drive Knoxville, TN 37919 Phone - (865) 450-8888; Fax - (865) 450-8869
Gray Television, Inc. - Copyright © 2014 WVLT-TV Inc. - Designed by Gray Digital Media - Powered by Clickability 168588736