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.
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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.