Court rules stripping not art form like ballet, Nite Moves strip club must pay taxes

Is stripping a performance art?
THINKSTOCK

The owner of an Albany strip club is going to have to make it rain — all the way to the tax man.

New York’s highest court, the Court of Appeals, ruled Tuesday that Nite Moves gentleman’s club does not qualify for a tax exemption similar to those given to dramatic or musical arts performances.

The club had argued it should not have to pay $124,000 in sales tax from its “couch performances” in 2004 and 2005 because they require choreography similar to other art forms, like ballet. 

But the Court of Appeals ruled against the club in a 4-3 decision.

“Surely it was not irrational … to conclude that a club presenting performances by women gyrating on a pole to music, however artistic or athletic their practice moves are, was also not a qualifying performance entitled to exempt status,” the majority wrote.

W. Andrew McCullough, the attorney representing Nite Moves, said the fight isn’t over yet.

“I’m really unhappy about it,” McCullough told Metro of the decision. “The state of New York still gets to be a dance critic and that is not the legitimate function of state of New York.”

He added that his client, Nite Moves owner Steve Dick, is about to face another audit and may try to make the same case all over again to the tax tribunal, bringing in more experts who can prove stripping as a dance form.

However, McCullough said Dick perceived the dissenting opinion by Judge Robert Smith as encouragement to take the case to the U.S. Supreme Court.

“The people who paid these admission charges paid to see women dancing. It does not matter if the dance was artistic or crude, boring or erotic,” Smith wrote. “Under New York’s Tax Law, a dance is a dance.”

“He felt the dissenting opinion was coaxing us in that direction — that we have a constitutional issue here and we should consider it,” McCullough said of Dick. “So, I am going to look at the seriously.”


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