Return of the Pole Tax

New tax would hit strip club patrons

First they came for the millionaires. Then they came for the iPods. Now the tax man is coming for the strippers.

Brooklyn democratic Assemblyman Felix Ortiz -- the man responsible for the nation's first law against driving while using a cell phone -- is proposing a new tax on folks who enjoy watching naked women dance.

Ortiz wants to squeeze strip club patrons for a pole toll of $10, with the revenue going to help victims of human trafficking.

"Monies generated have the potential to be a tremendous boost to these groups," Ortiz said. "Through this bill, New York state will continue to forge a path for other states to follow."

The bill, which has no Senate sponsor yet, would be a way to fund such additional spending at a time of fiscal crisis and double-digit deficits.

The bill calls for the $10-per-patron for any so-called adult entertainment business that serves food and drink and presents nude or partly nude dancers. The proceeds will go to services for victims of the illegal sex trade, Ortiz said, at a time when government budgets are being slashed.

In Texas, state lawyers are fighting to preserve their $5 "pole tax," a cover charge on strip clubs, which is being challenged by business owners. The Texas Legislature approved the fee in 2007, hoping to spend the money on sexual assault and health insurance programs, but a state judge tossed out the fee as an unconstitutional infringement on free speech. State lawyers have appealed.

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