A new bill introduced late last month in the New York State legislature marks the latest attempt to impose a user tax on porn, or for that matter any sexually oriented media. Teh proposed bill will slap an extra $2 on to every porn download.
charge would also apply to offline sexually oriented media, adding the two-buck fee to each magazine or DVD classified as sexually oriented. In fact, the language of New York Assembly Bill AO3417 is so broad that it apparently would apply not only to
porn, but even to R-rated movies and TV programs airing on pay cable networks such as HBO or Showtime.
That's because the law as written by Assistant Assembly Speaker Felix W. Ortiz defines sexually oriented as any media that features nude
pictures or nude performances. And nude does not even mean completely nude under the bill's wording, breasts or buttocks are enough.
The language of the bill is also unclear on whether the $2 surcharge would apply to free porn downloads, such as
on Pornhub and similar tube sites.
An attempt to block pornography and other
obscene material on all personal devices in
South Dakota, then charge users a $20 access fee, was voted down Friday by state lawmakers.
House Bill 1154, written by out-of-state authors, raised serious concerns with lobbyists representing South Dakota retailers and telecommunication
companies, who opposed the measure in a meeting of the House Judiciary Committee Friday morning.
A Republican Virginia lawmaker has revived the nonsense idea to impose a state tax charge on every device sold to enable access to adult websites.
State Representative Dave LaRock's has introduced a bill misleadingly called the Human Trafficking
Prevention Act, which would require Virginians to pay a $20 fee to unblock content on adult websites.
LaRock has track record of being anti-porn and anti-gay. He once tore down advertising for an adult bookstore and railed against recognition for
a local LGBTQ pride month.
Opponents point out that the proposal amounts to a tax on media content and would violate the First Amendment. The Media Coalition, which tracks legislation involving the First Amendment, sees the bill as nothing more
than a tax on content, which is unconstitutional, said executive director David Horowitz. People have a First Amendment right to access this content, and publishers have a First Amendment right to provide it.
Claire Guthrie Gastañaga, executive
director of the ACLU of Virginia, said the organization just can't take the bill seriously.
The state of Georgia voted overwhelmingly for Donald Trump. At the same time the electorate decided to screw the state's adult businesses. Just over 83% of Georgia's nearly 4 million voters voted to enact the Safe Harbor for Sexually Exploited
Children Fund, which would be bankrolled by placing additional fines on convicted sex offenders, including sex workers engaging in consensual sexual acts--and an annual $5,000 fee on adult book- and video stores, adult nightclubs, and possibly
even adult-oriented boutiques that don't carry any hardcore material.
Georgia's ballot question read:
Shall the Constitution of Georgia be amended to allow additional penalties for criminal cases in which a person
is adjudged guilty of keeping a place of prostitution, pimping, pandering, pandering by compulsion, solicitation of sodomy, masturbation for hire, trafficking of persons for sexual servitude, or sexual exploitation of children and to allow assessments on
adult entertainment establishments to fund the Safe Harbor for Sexually Exploited Children Fund to pay for care and rehabilitative and social services for individuals in this state who have been or may be sexually exploited?
is a rather miserable state with cities that won't allow anyone to purchase vibrators and other sex toys.
Pornographic material and adult entertainment might be getting a lot more expensive in the state of Alabama.
The Alabama House Ways and Means Committee passed the proposed porn tax in a 10-4 vote for an extortionately high rate of tax to offset
a massive budget shortfall .
In addition to any other applicable taxes, a 40% state excise tax will be levied on gross receipts from the sale, rental or admission charges of pornographic material. The tax will apply to any and all forms of
pornographic or sexually explicit content purchased in the state of Alabama, including, but not limited to, pornographic magazines, adult videos, and online adult rentals.
The porn tax bill now heads to the Alabama House for a floor vote.
Thanks to the state Senate, Alabama was able to avoid an anticipated First Amendment lawsuit over its budget proposal, which included an extortionate tax on pornography.
In order to make up a $200 million shortfall , Alabama wanted to raise taxes
with sin taxes. On Sept. 15, the porn tax failed to pass the Senate, during a budget vote in which the chamber approved two budget reform measures while also raising taxes by roughly $86 million annually .
As proposed, the tax on porn was
clearly unconstitutional. The First Amendment protects artistic expression, even if pornographic. Alabama, by taxing the specific category of pornographic material, is directly engaging in content-based discrimination, something the Supreme Court
does not allow. Indeed, in the 1972 case Police Department v. Mosely , the Court noted that above all else, the First Amendment means that the government has no power to restrict expression because of its message, its ideas, its subject matter, or its
content. Thus, regulations that treat a category of content differently than other categories will be held unconstitutional unless it passes the exacting legal test of strict scrutiny.
Strict scrutiny requires a compelling governmental
interest that is narrowly tailored to be the least restrictive means of accomplishing that interest. Absent those factors, a law will be deemed unconstitutional.
Alabama State Representative Jack Williams has proposed a 40% sales tax on receipts from the sale of sexually oriented materials as a desperate measure to help fill the $250+ million black hole in Alabama's General Fund budget.
oriented materials are described in the bill as:
Any book, magazine, newspaper, printed or written matter, writing, description, picture, drawing, animation, photograph, motion picture, film, video tape, pictorial
presentation, depiction, image, electrical or electronic reproduction, broadcast, transmission, video download, telephone communication, sound recording, article, device, equipment, matter, oral communication, depicting breast or genital nudity or sexual
The tax hike would be in addition to the state, city and county sales taxes already in place, which usually runs up another 10 percent in costs.
We have created a
class of products in this state that you have to be 18 to purchase and they have excise taxes on them. The state is broke.
Montgomery insiders say it has a realistic chance to pass, as Williams has accrued 26 co-sponsors for his bill,
including Alabama House Speaker Mike Hubbard
In the United States, the Georgia House has approved a constitutional amendment imposing a morality tax on strip clubs supposedly to help combat child sex trafficking.
The charge would be $5,000 or 1% of revenue on adult entertainment
businesses, whichever is greater. The funds will apparently go towards a new commission responsible for coordinating services for victims of child trafficking, although details on this are very vague.
Representative Tom Weldon made the bold and
probably libellous claim that strip clubs cause child sex trafficking, claiming:
These are not legitimate businesses. These are strip joints. They are illegitimate and they need to pay for the problem and the cancer
they have brought to each community in our society.
The text of the bill claims that strip clubs are a point of access for children to come into contact with people who would abuse them but offers no evidence of how this
conclusion was arrived at.
Alan Begner, an attorney for several of strip club owners responded that there was no evidence linking strip clubs to child prostitution or trafficking. He said that he will sue if the measure is passed into law.
Both measures must return to the Senate for consideration after revisions were made. According to WABE, voters would still have to approve the fee because the state constitution would be altered if it passed into law.
Patrons of strip clubs and adult theaters would have to pay a Florida state tax before going in, under a malicious proposal being looked at by state lawmakers seemingly attempting to close down such venues.
The House Finance & Tax Committee agreed
to advance the sin tax bill out of the committee. The measure would impose entry requirements on adult establishments, including a $10 fee on top of any other existing admission charges. Also, it would require the business to keep records
Committee Chairman Republican Matt Gaetz, said the proposal would discourage people from frequenting the businesses.
The proposals have yet to make their way to the Senate. Anticipating opposition because the measure
would hit businesses, House Finance & Tax Committee members said they need to carefully define the proposal.
Representative Mike Hill said that while he agreed with the adult-entertainment surcharge, he was concerned about individual privacy
in requiring the businesses to keep records on customers:
When else, because you're buying a certain product, you're going to buy a loaf of bread, (and) you have to put your name down?
Representative Charles Van Zant said the surcharge should be $10 on night clubs,
where do you not have human nudity, and $25 on those who do. Van Zant claimed that because of connections between adult entertainment and human tracking, the state should collect names.
Philadelphia officials have decided not to keep appealing in court to revive the lap dance tax.
The 30-day window to file an appeal has officially passed since Judge Ellen Ceisler ruled Philadelphia cannot impose its entertainment tax on what
goes on inside strip clubs. The tax already applies to cover charges at the clubs.
Attorney George Bochetto represents two of the strip clubs the city unsuccessfully targeted for collection of the lap dance tax . He explained:
The fact of the matter is they had no authority to impose this kind of new tax in the manner they attempted to do so. It doesn't mean they aren't entitled to seek the additional taxes, but they just can't do it by
unilaterally imposing it.
If the city wants to tax this activity, it would have to craft a new law. They are going to have to do in a manner that treats all types of interior entertainment equally. So it's potentially an issue
that doesn't affect just gentlemen's clubs, but every place of entertainment in the city of Philadelphia.
Larry Flynt's Hustler Club in Manhattan is suing to keep the taxman at bay by claiming the state violated the club's First Amendment rights by levying fees against dancing routines while letting operas and Broadway shows skirt sales tax.
government's 8.5% take from the club is an impermissible taxation upon constitutionally protected expression, club lawyers claim in a new Manhattan civil suit.
A state tax rule exempts any roof garden, cabaret or other similar place
which furnishes a public performance for profit. Performance is defined as live dramatic, choreographic or musical performance.
When determining what type of venues are taxed, auditor Renel Saint-Amour said:
It is related to dramatics, things that are preformed at an opera house and not in terms of a social club that provides exotic dancers or the so-called gentleman's club.
What is performed at the club is
entertainers that perform laptop dancing. We don't view that as a dramatic event.
Philadelphia's Tax Review Board has voted against Mayor Michael Nutter's Revenue Department and issued a unanimous ruling in favor of a group of strip club owners fighting the so-called lap-dance tax.
Nutter had tried to stretch the rules and
apply the city's amusement tax to individual lap dances. The city claimed that clubs owed back takes on past lap dances.
After six hearings, the board ruled that the clubs did not have to pay for any back taxes and penalties related to the
amusement tax. Board Chairwoman Nancy Kammerdeiner said that the Revenue Department applied the tax inconsistently and that its interpretation of the admission tax was too vague.
Asked whether the administration will appeal the decision, Nutter
spokesman Mark McDonald said:
We will look at the decision from the Tax Review Board and then we will evaluate our options.
Two Philadelphia strip clubs are appealing huge taxes levied against them by the city based on a so-called amusement tax that usually is applied to admission fees but in this case someone dreamed up the wheeze that it should also apply to lap dance
revenue. The taxes are not slight, Club Risque was charged $320,538, and Cheerleaders was charged $486,482.
Club attorney, George Bochetto, called foul, accusing the city of auditing lap dance revenue and then going back five years and tacking on
fines. It's over the top. Unbelievable, he told Philly.com:
The clubs, of course, pay business taxes in addition to the amusement tax, and dancers are supposed to pay income and wage taxes. An informed City Hall source says the
city feels it can run an amusement tax up the pole because the lap dance is a separate experience.
New York's highest court is set to hear arguments on whether Nite Moves , a strip club in suburban Albany, deserves a state tax exemption similar to that for theater or ballet.
State tax officials say the club owes an 8% sales tax for
admissions to the club and for so-called couch sales, where patrons pay for private lap dances, the Associated Press reports.
Nite Moves claims the dances are exempt under state tax law as live dramatic or musical arts performances, which applies to theater and ballet, the AP reports.
New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman's office argues in its briefs that some Nite Moves performers have no dance training and simple pick it up by watching. Such a dancer isn't engaged in a genuine choreographic dance performance when
she removes her clothing, the brief says.
But Stephen Dick, the club's CFO, dismisses the notion that formal training should be any critera when its comes to entertainment.
Houston council voted this week to levy a $5 fee on strip club customers of the city's 30 licensed strip bars. This in addition to the $5 fee to the state of Texas when visiting an adult venue, thanks to a law passed in 2007.
The moral tax will be
ring-fenced and put towards analysing forensic evidence collected from rape victims.
Supporters of the so-called pole tax argue that lap-dancing clubs must shoulder some of the financial burden of rape investigations , on the supposed
grounds that their businesses help foster misogynistic attitudes towards women, which can lead to sexual assaults. If they were being fair about it then the tax would have been better targeted at the Catholic Church.
The morality tax was passed by
14 votes to one. The ordinance stipulates that the fee also applies to bars and night-clubs which offer one-off events that could be construed as sexually explicit, such as wet T-shirt contests or naked sushi contests .
Albert Van Huff, a
Houston lawyer who represents strip clubs, told the Journal that the tax is based on flawed logic. There is no known correlation between people going to nice, high-end gentlemen's clubs and rape, he said.
An Illinois Senate panel this week has given the green light to tax strip club patrons $3; alternatively, clubs could opt for a flat annual fee based on the amount of revenue they generate.
The proposal would affect clubs that offer alcohol and
nudity, including topless dancing. The legislation, state House Bill 1645, originally sought $5 a head and no flat fee, but these has now been reduced.
State Sen. Toi Hutchinson, who introduced the bill, said that lobbyists for the adult
entertainment industry, particularly the Illinois Club Owners Association, were able to forge a compromise during intense talks.
The Illinois measure, which sailed through the Senate Public Health Committee unanimously, now heads to the full
Senate for further debate.
Another strip club tax is being considered by California's Legislature. AB 2441 is set to place a $10 fee on visitors of establishments that offer alcohol and topless or nude performances.
It's the fourth attempt to tax sexually explicit
businesses in the past four years in California. All of those bills, which would have levied a 20% sales tax were shot down. A tax raising bill requires a two-thirds vote of both the Assembly and Senate.
AB 2441, however, would be the first
legislative action to mandate a fixed-fee pole tax .
JA spokesman for Californian Assemblyman Das Williams said that strip clubs are a good possible resource for funding because there's already a model to tax adult entertainment
establishments. Pole taxes are now mandatory in Texas and Utah, with legislation being mulled for similar tariffs for adult entertainment customers in Illinois, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Tennessee. He said that the bill is on track in the
Assembly and could be approved by both houses in September.
A Tennessee lawmaker has proposed a 25% on adult businesses and products that he claims could increase state revenue by $55 million.
According to local News Channel 5, Joe Carr believes the sin tax could help Tennesseans by tapping the
state's $222 million annual porn business. He said:
If we can't outlaw it, and the Supreme Court says we cannot, then what we'll do is put a 25% tax on adult material, hard core pornography.
lawmaker said it's not just about the money, but more about the harm porn is doing to local marriages.
But some Constitutional experts think the proposed bill probably violates the First Amendment. States have a legal right to tax so-called vices
like liquor and tobacco but they're commercial products and don't have any First Amendment aspects attached to them as porn does.
The Texas Supreme Court has upheld a 2007 strip club entry fee tax, commonly known as the pole tax , claiming that the $5 charge doesn't substantially impact erotic speech and is justified as a tool to prevent the secondary effects allegedly caused by the combination of naked, gyrating female bodies and alcohol consumption.
Because the fee is content-neutral and satisfies the four-part O'Brien test, we conclude that it does not violate the First Amendment, wrote Justice Nathan L. Hecht for the unanimous court panel.
But as those who've been following
this litigation know, the issue of using the fee to combat secondary effects was an idea introduced rather late in the game.
This is just a source of revenue; it has nothing to do with secondary effects, an attorney stated: The lady that
authored the bill, when she presented the bill for the first time in committee, said, 'We are not claiming a link between topless bars and sexual assault.' She was specifically asked that question.
That link was contested statistically by a
professor at the University of Texas, and it was also contested in the sense of, there was no evidence introduced supporting that theory... There was no evidence that there had been sexual assaults in the neighborhood, which is the basic secondary effect
concept. They had evidence from a professor and a former police officer-turned-investigator that talked about sexual offenses in connection with entertainers, and they were assaultive type offenses, but not committed by patrons, and not in the
Of the 169 clubs to which the fee applies, the attorney estimated that more than half could be put out of business because of the fee; that another 30% would be hurt, while just 20% would be minimally affected.
Lap dancing cannot be considered an art form, a New York state court hearing a tax dispute has ruled.
The owners of the Nite Moves strip club in Albany had argued the business should not have to pay sales tax on money earned from admission fees
and lap dances. It claimed a state law that makes dramatic or musical arts performances exempt from sales tax should include strippers' dances, whether they are on a stage or in private booths.
The five judges at the Appellate Division,
Third Department disagreed with the idea that stripping could enjoy the same tax status as ballet and ruled against the club.
Justice John Egan Jr said Nite Moves had failed to establish that private dances were genuine choreographed performances
and suggested the strippers usually learned their trade from videos or watching colleagues. He added: The record reflects that the club's dancers are not required to have any formal dance training.
Nite Moves' lawyer, Andrew McCullough,
said the club would appeal against the ruling, on the grounds the court had made a value judgement on the artistic merits of lap dancing.
Arkansas Senator Percy Malone introduced SB921 on the last day of filing for the session. The bill, if passed, would tax adult entertainment businesses in the state and use the proceeds for the protection of abused children.
Currently SB921 does
not indicate how much of a tax will be sought.
The all too literal title of the bill is An Act To Amend the Laws Regarding Taxation of the Adult Entertainment Industry; To Provide that Revenues Generated from the Taxation of Businesses in the
Adult Entertainment Industry Shall Go Towards the Protection of Abused Children; and for Other Purposes.
Expectations were high six years ago when the Utah Legislature enacted a 10% tax on escort services, and semi-nude and fully nude clubs.
Lawmakers predicted the tax on sexually oriented businesses would rake in up to $1 million per year, which was
earmarked to pay for sex offender treatment programs and investigations of Internet child sex crimes.
But the potential tax base was whittled down when the Utah Tax Commission exempted semi-nude clubs. And later the Utah Supreme Court struck down
the portion of the law applying to escort services.
As of Tuesday, when the U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear a challenge to the tax mounted by strip club owners, just one club remains affected by the decision: Southern Exposure in Salt Lake
City, which features full frontal nudity.
There's not enough money in this tax to justify collecting it, said attorney Andrew McCullough, who represents the owner of Southern Exposure.
Charlie Roberts, a spokesman for the Tax
Commission that the amount of tax collected from Southern Exposure was not very much.
Cole County Circuit Court Judge Jon Beetem has ruled in favor of a sweeping law that would impose unprecedented restrictions on adult businesses in Missouri.
In denying a temporary restraining order request Friday afternoon by a consortium of
adult businesses, Beetem cleared the way for the law to go into effect Saturday.
Among other restrictions, the law prohibits full nudity and the serving of alcohol, forces semi-nude dancers to remain on a stage and at least six feet from
patrons—rendering lap dances impossible—prohibits closed-door booths for the viewing of movies, requires that patrons remain within the clear view of employees, and mandates that adult businesses close by midnight.
According to the Associated
Press, Judge Beetem said the coalition had failed to show their lawsuit is likely to ultimately succeed or that they will suffer irreparable harm by allowing the law to take effect. The operative word there would seem to be irreparable. During a
hearing before Beetem, lawyers for the businesses insisted that the harm could very well be irreparable, and would certainly seem that way for the employees who will now certainly lose their jobs because of the severe restrictions that are about to be
But while Beetem acknowledged in his ruling that the law will undoubtedly change the business practices of strip clubs, adult video and book stores and other businesses of a sexual nature, and that they will likely suffer some
economic loss, he added that economic loss alone does not alter the analysis of the legal issues.
Judge Jon Beetem has tossed a constitutional challenge to a state law enacted in 2010 that imposed sweeping restrictions on adult businesses in the state. Despite the ruling, which was anticipated, adult bookstore and club owners say they will
appeal the case to the state Supreme Court, where they figured it would end up anyway.
The Texas Supreme Court has decided to review the legality of charging a $5-per-person pole tax to patrons of strip clubs and other adult entertainment venues, a case that has hinged on whether the government can tax content protected by the First
The law, passed in the 2007 legislative session, originally directed revenues collected from the fee toward sexual abuse and violence treatment and prevention programs, but it has been mired in legal wrangling almost since it took
effect in 2008.
I'm extremely happy that they agreed to hear the case, said State Rep. Ellen Cohen, who sponsored the legislation and filed an amicus brief urging the court to review the matter. If you're going to do this, you need to
raise a substantial enough amount of money to make a dramatic effect on issues surrounding sexual violence. The way we fashioned it was absolutely the correct way and the most reasoned way.
The law was struck down in March 2008, by a Travis
County District Court judge, a ruling that was upheld in June by the Austin-based 3rd Court of Appeals. The state has collected more than $12 million in fees that have been held in escrow pending the final outcome of the case.
David A. Furlow, a
former Harris County prosecutor who has represented businesses in numerous cases involving First Amendment protections, said the central issue is whether the government can levy a tax on speech, such as a newspaper or TV show or dancing in a strip club,
that has the effect of singling it out.
When you say certain types of messages and certain types of entertainment can be taxed, you begin down a slippery slope that can allow the government to destroy a form of business by taxing it out of
existence, he said. You start down a pathway that could lead to censorship-based government like that which exists in Iran.
To defend the law, the government has been forced to argue that strip clubs lead to greater violence against
women, a claim for which there is no evidence, Furlow said. Under such logic, he added, R-rated movies could be taxed because of the violence sometimes depicted in them.
The Utah Supreme Court has ruled that a state tax on strip clubs is constitutional but that the same tax on escort services is not.
Passed in 2004, the tax levies a statewide 10% tax on admission and user fees charged by sexually-explicit
businesses, defined as any business where a nude or partially denuded employee or contractor performs any service. Utah-produced merchandise, food and drinks sold by these businesses also are subject to the tax.
The statute also levies a
tax on escort services, which are defined as any person who furnishes or arranges for an escort who is compensated to accompany another individual for companionship. An escort is any individual who is available to the public for the purpose of
accompanying another individual for compensated companionship.
Associate Chief Justice Matthew B. Durrant said that the state's Sexually Explicit Business and Escort Service Tax is content-neutral when applied to nudity.
case, application of the tax is triggered by nudity, which the Supreme Court has specifically declared 'is not an inherently expressive condition, Durrant wrote. Because it is not inherently expressive, nudity is unprotected conduct rather than
Regarding the taxing of escort services, Durrant found that the language was fatally overbroad, but opened the door to a legislative revision that included more specific language. Nowhere does the statute define an
escort in terms of nudity, he wrote. The statute also fails to define the term 'companionship.' Therefore, according to the plain terms of the statute, individuals who are paid for providing care for the elderly as well as those who are paid as
tour guides would fall within the definition of an 'escort,' and any person or business who employs them would be subject to the tax.
A California bill that would have imposed a 20% tax on sales of adult movies and sex toys, as well as the receipts of strip clubs, has been voted down by a legislative panel. The bill was voted down in the Assembly Tax and Revenue Committee.
California Assemblywoman Mary Salas, D-San Diego, sponsored the proposal, which would have sent revenue from the tax to a newly created Adult Venue Impact Fund.
The fund would then have been distributed to local law enforcement agencies in an effort to deal with secondary effects that are supposedly associated with adult entertainment businesses.
Salas' chief of staff, Francisco Estrada, told
XBIZ that the assemblywoman was deeply disappointed by the 5-4 vote against the bill: At this point, we're not sure if the bill will be resurrected .
A California bill that would impose a 20% tax on sales of adult movies and sex toys, as well as the receipts of strip clubs, has been introduced in the Legislature.
California Assemblywoman Mary Salas introduced the proposal, which would send
revenue from the tax to a newly created Adult Venue Impact Fund.
The fund would then be distributed to local law enforcement agencies in an effort to deal with supposed secondary effects that are associated with adult entertainment businesses.
Free Speech Coalition lobbyist Ignacio Hernandez said the bill could be found unconstitutional on several points, including taxation based on the content of a movie: This measure is clearly unconstitutional and unworkable. This bill is much
broader than previous efforts to tax adult movie and novelty retailers. Therefore, it suffers from greater constitutional defects than prior bills.
Hernandez said the broad definition of harmful material included in the bill's language
would likely be opposed by entertainment organizations like the Motion Picture Association of America.
Specifically, Assembly Bill 847 would levy a 20% on the gross receipts of any California business that is:
A retail establishment whose gross receipts from the sale or rental of adult material exceeds 50% of all gross receipts.
Providing a public or private viewing of adult material.
An establishment that offers live sexually explicit
conduct that is prohibited to audiences under 18 years of age or 21 years of age, depending on whether alcoholic beverages are sold on the premises.
A hearing on the latest proposed porn tax bill is scheduled for next month.
A Texas Court of Appeals panel has upheld a lower court ruling striking down a tax that imposed a $5 tariff for each customer entering a sexually oriented business (SOB).
On appeal, Texas Comptroller Susan Combs argued that the SOB tax does not
violate the 1st Amendment nor the Texas Constitution, that sovereign immunity bars suit by the Texas Entertainment Association and that the trial court erred in awarding attorneys fees.
But the appeals court judges had concern over a tax that was
a content-based speech regulation and subjected to the strict scrutiny required to determine if the regulation were narrowly tailored to serve a compelling governmental interest.
Evidence that the SOB tax is aimed at reducing
secondary effects of sexually oriented businesses does not preclude the proper application of strict scrutiny in this case, the court ruled.
In addition, the court overruled the sovereign immunity and attorneys fees claims by the Texas
At post time, it wasn't clear whether the comptroller will appeal the decision to the Texas Supreme Court.
The measure that would create a 12% excise tax on all tangible adult entertainment products in California has been dropped for the legislative season but still is alive.
Assembly Bill 1082 is slated as a two-year bill and will be brought back in
August when the Legislature reconvenes after summer recess, according to Allegra Kim, a legislative analyst for state Assemblyman Alberto Torrico who sponsored the measure.
But for the time being, Free Speech Coalition Executive Director Diane
Duke is elated: We’re thrilled. We dodged another one, but there always are those who believe in the absurdity of a bill like this one. I think there always will be those who want to abridge the industry’s free-speech rights.
joined by the American Civil Liberties Union, which said that the U.S. Supreme Court has made it clear that a tax on First Amendment protected speech will not withstand constitutional scrutiny and that the tax imposed by this bill is an
unconstitutional, content-based regulation on speech that impermissibly burdens vast amounts of protected expression.
A proposal to levy a $5 tax on sex acts in Nevada has died in a state Senate committee.
The 3-4 vote Thursday in the Nevada Senate Taxation Committee was one shy of the four needed to keep the proposal afloat.
Committee Chairman Bob
Coffin, the Las Vegas Democrat who sponsored the bill, says the state is desperate for revenue and has not collected taxes from prostitution since it was legalized in some rural counties more than 30 years ago.
Texas legislators have given a green light for a new tax on sexually oriented businesses that would replace a measure that taxes patrons entering strip clubs.
Under H.B. 982, a $5-per-person gentlemen's club fee would be repealed and replaced
with a 10% tax to those sexually oriented businesses that charge an admission fee.
The bill, introduced by Representative Senfronia Thompson and endorsed by the adult entertainment industry, passed the House on Thursday.
This bill is
unlike the $5 admission tax that has been tied up in the courts since the last legislative session, Thompson told XBIZ: The free-speech issue that has dogged that one has been eliminated with this bill. We are charging a tax, in this case, to do
business in the state of Texas.
Thompson noted the proposed tax does not target nude dancing, a form of expression a Texas court ruled is protected by the First Amendment.
She said that the bill was hammered out with the help of
members of the Texas Entertainment Association, which is an industry trade association for Texas strip-club owners. She noted that there are 115 known strip clubs in the state.
The bill's target is strip clubs, but it could be expanded to other
sectors. H.B. 982 defines sexually oriented businesses to include any commercial enterprise selling, renting or exhibiting items [and services] intended to provide sexual stimulation or sexual gratification to the customer.
who have paid the state under the old fee would get a credit toward the new tax, which would go into effect as early as July 1. Thompson said that the bill has moved on to a fast track in the Legislature and could be signed into law by the governor
Nevada senator Bob Coffin has proposed a $5 tax on every prostitution transaction that occurs in the state, according to a Las Vegas Sun report. Coffin says the tax would raise an additional $2 million a year for Nevada, and a lobbyist for the legal
brothel industry supports the idea.
I think we will support [the tax], said George Flint, director of the Nevada Brothel Owners Association. There are 28 legal brothels operating in Nevada, along with illegal unlicensed prostitution, and
prostitution is actually illegal in the city of Las Vegas. Coffin's proposed tax would apply to both legal and illegal prostitution.
The proposed tax would be paid by customers, not levied from the prostitutes' wages.
Florida legislators are looking at next year's budget and trying to figure out how to balance it — and one of the answers they're coming up with is to do it partly on the back of the state's adult industry.
According to an article on MSNBC.com,
two (unnamed) state legislators have argued that new taxes on sex businesses should be considered, encompassing every facet of adult products from sexually oriented websites to the novelties and lingerie sold at boutiques, to DVDs and magazines
sold at adult book- and video stores. And they haven't forgotten door fees at adult nightclubs, either.
No such content-based taxes have successfully been enacted except for a $5 adult club entry surcharge in Texas, and even those proceeds are
being escrowed as Texas club owners continue to fight that pole tax. Similar attempts in Washington state, New York and California have been defeated.
It's a vast untapped source of revenue in Florida — one that could be as reliable as
taxes on drinking and smoking, MSNBC's reporter wrote, recognizing however that: One barrier to such a tax is that opponents would try to overturn it on grounds it could violate free speech rights.
Texas State is holding $11.2 million in fees collected from strip club patrons pending the action of an appeals court.
A $5 fee for strip club patrons was passed into law in 2007, with the money collected to fund sexual assault services in 54
Texas counties and health insurance programs. Last year, a judge struck down the law, saying that topless dancing was protected as free speech and that the state couldn't show a link between strip clubs and inadequate health insurance. The state has
appealed, and the appeals court has not yet ruled.
Though the Texas Comptroller's Office continues to collect the fee, only some topless clubs are paying it. Some clubs have argued that collecting the money while the bill is under consideration
in court is unfair and affects their cash flow as the economy slows. The $11.2 million collected is lower than the $40 million that legislative analysts projected in the law's first year.
Representative Ellen Cohen, who authored the original 2007
bill, is pushing a new version this year, which drops the charge to $3 and sends all proceeds to sexual assault programs. Lawyers for the clubs say they'll take it to court if it passes.
We will continue to fight until they stop filing
unconstitutional legislation, said Stewart Whitehead, an attorney for the Texas Entertainment Association, which represents topless clubs in Texas: These changes don't get them around the fact that they are taxing constitutionally protected
State Assemblyman Alberto Torrico has introduced a bill that would place a tax on adult entertainment products sold in California.
The tax percentage was not written into the bill introduced Friday; however, Torrico spokesman Jeff Barbosa told
XBIZ that the bill is still in the beginning process” and that legislative analysts will provide a tax amount shortly.
The timing of Torrico's proposal comes on the heels of dwindling state coffers, as well as the assemblyman's push to
provide a domestic abuser surveillance fund to track abusers and stalkers.
The bill's language, as it stands, only includes a proposed tax on the sale of harmful matter goods at the retail level.
Representative Mark Miloscia gave it his best shot, but his proposal to tax adult entertainment products and services to fund unemployment and welfare benefits is dead - mainly because it's too complicated.
According to the Seattle
Post-Intelligencer, Rep. Ross Hunter , chair of the state House Finance Committee, had originally said he'd give a hearing to House Bill 2103, but thought better of it after remembering that the state had previously signed onto the 2002 Streamline
Sales and Use Tax Agreement, whose fundamental purpose is to simplify and modernize sales and use tax administration in the member states in order to substantially reduce the burden of tax compliance.
Miloscia's porn tax bill, it
seems, in attempting to put a tax on goods based on their content, wouldn't fly under the simplification agreement - and besides, a tax based on content is just unconstitutional.
In light of a $15 billion state budget deficit, New York Governor, David Paterson, has proposed an additional 4% tax on all digitally delivered entertainment services, including online adult content.
Following the proposition, the iPod
tax was immediately met with criticism from not only the adult entertainment industry, which has largely dismissed the tax as a publicity stunt, but also from the conservatives, who fear that such a tax would legitimize the downloading and
viewing of adult content.
You're sending a message to children, and you're sending a message to teenagers: If you're taxing it, how can it be wrong? said state Conservative Party Chairman Michael Long.
Paterson's proposed tax is
the most recent of a seemingly popular trend in that it follows similar propositions in California and more recently, Washington.
At least one constitutional scholar
questions the legality of such a tax.
If the tax were limited to [MP3, porn and other entertainment downloads], there would be some substantial problems, said attorney Reed Lee, an expert in constitutional law: If it's an attempt to tax
all Internet traffic, whether that be downloading the latest NASA pictures from Mars for scientific purposes or what, as well as entertainment downloads, then that has a much better chance of passing constitutional muster. In general, a tax designed to
impose a burden on specific expression will face the most serious constitutional obstacles in court.
Lee cited two late-'80s cases involving the Minneapolis Star Tribune newspaper and the Arkansas Writers Project. In the Minneapolis case, the
government tried to place a sales tax on newsprint - and failed.
A government can impose a sales tax on newspapers and magazines, so long as it also imposes a sales tax on everything else, Lee explained. But a sales tax on only
newspapers and magazines might pose a serious constitutional problem. And one imposed only on Playboy and Penthouse would face virtually insurmountable problems.
Wisconsin has followed in the footsteps of New York State by passing a stimulus bill that includes a measure for adding sales tax to digital downloads starting October 1. The bill also includes budget cuts as well as a variety of tax increases
to patch Wisconsin's $600m shortfall under its current budget set to expire June 30.
But the bill is getting a lot of media play for its digital tax provisions, fingered as (the arguably misleading moniker of) an "iPod tax." The name
obviously downplays the true reach of the tax, which levies a 4 per cent charge on "digitally delivered entertainment services" including music, movies, e-books, greeting cards, ringtones, and many other downloadable items. It's expected to
generate $11m for the state over two years.
Wisconsin state legislature has now approved a 5% tax
on Internet downloads to take effect in October.
Backed by Governor Jim Doyle, the tax will apply to music, movies, downloads, games, ringtones, e-books, greeting cards and other items, according to the Associated Press. This would presumably
include adult content.
A Georgia state senator said that he is thinking of imposing fees on strip club patrons supposedly to help fund programs for victims of sexual abuse. Surely the reality is more moral than charitable.
The legislation, proposed by Senator Jack
Murphy, would charge between $3 and $5 per visitor at every strip club in Georgia. Murphy says he would forward the additional revenue to therapeutic programs for victims of child prostitution and other forms of sex-related abuse because the state has
cut funding for a lot of such services to compensate for statewide falling revenues.
Although Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle, who presides over the state senate, says he is reluctant to add such a fee because this is not the time for raising taxes.
Many in opposition to the proposed legislation argue that a fee would not only make a difference, but also put many of these strip clubs out of business.
You’re not just putting a tax on the patrons of the adult clubs, said
Aubrey Villines, a lawyer who has represented strip-club-owner Jack Galardi. What does it do to the waitresses, to the food workers, to the parking attendants? The people who all depend on this industry for work?
A similar strip-club fee
of $5 per patron was instated in Texas in January 2008. In this case, a state district judge ruled in March that the fee was unconstitutional in that it violated the First Amendment.
Murphy says he will announce his final decision after
consulting legislative leadership.
With the state facing a dire budget crisis, a California politician plans to introduce new legislation that would tax consumers of adult entertainment.
Democrat State Assemblymember Alberto Torrico said he plans to push for new legislation
that would place a tax on the goods and products associated with the adult entertainment industry.
Torrico's spokesman Jeff Barbosa said the amount of the tax had not been determined, but the legislation could be introduced within a few
The timing of Torrico's proposal comes on the heels of a similar bill's defeat in August. A 25% excise tax on adult products and productions proposed by Assemblyman Charles Calderon gained no traction in the assembly and died in committee.