Lap Dances Subject to Sales Tax


New York Court of Appeals has ruled that lap dances are not art, therefore they are not exempt from state sales tax.

Nite Moves was assessed $124,000 of back sales taxes on cover charges and lap dance fees collected from customers.

Nite Moves said that lap dances are covered by the state’s exemption for “dramatic or musical arts performances.” The Courts of Appeals concluded that the club failed to prove that lap dances qualify as choreographed performances, a necessary standard for exemption as a musical arts performance.

Judge Smith wrote an opinion for imposing an unwritten “highbrow” requirement for a dance to qualify as art:

“The people who paid these admission charges paid to see women dancing. It does not matter if the dance was artistic or crude, boring or erotic. Under New York’s Tax Law, a dance is a dance. I would be appalled, however, if the State were to exact from Hustler a tax that the New Yorker did not have to pay, on the ground that what appears tin Hustler is insufficiently cultural and artistic. That sort of discrimination on the basis of content would surely be unconstitutional.