Texas Upholds $5-Per-Patron Strip Club Tax to Combat 'Social Ills Associated With This Type of Business'

Jay Phagan/WikimediaJay Phagan/WikimediaThe Texas Third Court of Appeals has upheld a punitive $5 tax levied on anyone who patronizes a strip club in Texas. Because Texas strip clubs stopped collecting the fee while it faced legal challenges (and some never started), they now face millions of dollars in retroactive payments owed to the state. 

The Texas Entertainment Association (TEA), a strip club industry group, has been fighting the fee—long referred to as the "pole tax"—since it became state law in 2007. After losing a Texas Supreme Court challenge to the fee on First Amendment grounds, the TEA alleged in this case that the state "sexually oriented business fee" violated state free speech protections; unfairly targeted strip clubs but not other forms of adult entertainment; and qualified as an occupation tax so was thereby subject to the state's occupation tax revenue rules. 

But the appeals court rejected all three arguments, ruling that the fee was not an occupation tax, a violation of free speech, or an unfair assault on live nude entertainment specifically. The fee "does not relate to the privilege of operating a nude entertainment business in Texas—it relates only to whether the business provides live nude entertainment while allowing alcohol consumption," the court wrote in its decision. (And if alcohol sales account for a big part of nude entertainment business profits? Too bad.)

The court went on to explicitly cite the alleged "secondary effects" and "social harms" brought by adult entertainment venues as a justification for the fee. Funds extorted from strip clubs and their patrons will go to pay for programs for sexual assault victims, under the nonsensical theory that the mere existence of strip clubs drives up rape. Nevermind that there's not a bit of evidence that strip club patrons or employees are either more likely to commit or more likely be the victims of sexual assault than folks in the general population. 

Just in case there was any doubt in anyone's mind about the purpose of this tax on strip clubs, the Third Court of Appeals lays it out nice and clear: "The primary purpose of the sexually-oriented-business tax is not to tax these businesses for the privilege of providing nude entertainment in the presence of alcohol consumption," the court wrote. "Rather, the tax’s primary purpose is to discourage this type of business activity altogether while also generating revenue to ameliorate the type of social ills that are associated with this type of business." 

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  • John C. Randolph||

    the nonsensical theory that the mere existence of strip clubs drives up rape.

    As we all know, rape is completely unknown in fundamentalist muslim countries where strip clubs are prohibited.

    -jcr

  • R C Dean||

    Alrighty then. If $5.00 is perfectly OK, why not $100? or $1,000?

    How long before we see underground/black market strip clubs? Anybody want to bet that they will contribute less to "social ills"?

  • Grand Moff Serious Man||

    Congratulations Texas, now you just gave the progs an idea to combat the 'social ills' associated with guns.

    Why can't a state like New York or Maryland slap a similar tax on gun ranges and gun shops?

  • Soros' Wank-noose||

    Hey, now-we didn't vote for it. Or even the brilliant minds that brought it to us.

    Of course, gotta love the cheeky double entenders that come standard at no extra charge..

  • John||

    They could. Unless you could show it puts an unreasonable burden on the exercise of a Constitutional right, they could do it.

    Look at it this way, the states can tax newspapers can't they?

  • Wasteland Wanderer||

    Only to the degree that they tax any other unrelated business. Taxes aimed at newspapers specifically have been ruled unconstitutional before.

  • John||

    States have general police and taxing power. This is an idiotic tax but they can do it. The only thing interesting about this is that it seems to be the result of an unholy alliance of SOCONs, Soccer Moms and radical feminists. If that doesn't make the hair on the back of your neck stand up, nothing will.

  • Soros' Wank-noose||

    Correct. it's definitely the wrong thing to have on end in this particular situation.

  • Palin's Buttplug||

    60 million SoCons and the last 23 remaining radical feminists! What an alliance!

    EXACTLY ALIKE!

  • John||

    Wow retard troll showed up on a thread that didn't involve sucking Obama's cock. Go figure.

  • Bryan C||

    "while allowing alcohol consumption"

    There's where the problem starts. Getting rid of liquor licenses would strike a huge blow for freedom.

  • Rev Match||

    Freedom is a social ill?

  • AlmightyJB||

    It's just extortion is all it is plain and simple. Government learned the rackets from the mob.

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