Ruling Could Enforce Collection of Pole Tax in Strip Clubs

Keep Houston Press Free
I Support
  • Local
  • Community
  • Journalism
  • logo

Support the independent voice of Houston and help keep the future of Houston Press free.

After a legal fight waged for more than five years, it looks like strip-club-going might in fact cost a little more here in Houston, the Mecca of strip clubs (can we really say that?).

After the state supreme court ruled against a challenge from the Texas Entertainment Association that said the $5 pole tax was limiting First Amendment rights, a lower court has now ruled against another challenge saying the tax went against the Texas Constitution.

The reason, said TEA lawyers, was that the tax was an occupation tax, but the appeals court ruled it an excise tax. As it goes, the $5 fee is charged to every customer and then paid by the clubs to the state every quarter. At least that was the idea since 2007.

According to a report on Bloomberg.com:

The tax, expected to generate about $30 million per year starting in 2008, was intended to fund sexual-assault programs such as prevention and services for victims, and other health-care initiatives. So far it has generated about $17.2 million, R.J. DeSilva, a spokesman for [Texas Comptroller Susan Combs], said in an e-mail.

"If the clubs had been paying it all along, they wouldn't be in a bind now," said Annette Burrhus-Clay, executive director of the Austin-based Texas Association Against Sexual Assault, which represents 80 rape-crisis centers. "Most patrons plan to spend more than $5 before they go into a club."

If you're one of those types who like to "make it rain" at the strip club with a wad of singles, just know that the little money stack might be a little smaller now if clubs are following the rules. There's a possibility the ruling last week could be appealed to the state supreme court.

Keep the Houston Press Free... Since we started the Houston Press, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Houston, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Houston with no paywalls.

We use cookies to collect and analyze information on site performance and usage, and to enhance and customize content and advertisements. By clicking 'X' or continuing to use the site, you agree to allow cookies to be placed. To find out more, visit our cookies policy and our privacy policy.


Join the Press community and help support independent local journalism in Houston.


Join the Press community and help support independent local journalism in Houston.