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07/17/2013

Tax appeal: Philadelphia puts move on lap dancing

Lap dance blog

Tax free: Beyonce Knowles dances on actor Terrance Howard's lap during the 5th annual BET Awards  in Los Angeles, 2005. (AP Photo/Chris Pizzello)

Ottawa has dissed it, Queen’s Park has capped it, and Toronto’s sacred taxpayers have sent out no Hail Mary passes.

If Mayor Rob Ford’s lips were still long enough we could read them. But the “no-new-taxes” (well, maybe $5 a household) mayor has to scratch up the money from somewhere to fulfill his grand vision of a Scarborough subway, tagged at $766 million a stop.

Now a solution may be on the horizon:  the mayor need grope no farther than Philadelphia, the City of Brotherly (and sisterly) Love.

Cash-challenged Philly --  with the highest poverty rate of any U.S. town of over 1 million -- is making a case for collecting new fees from lap dancing clubs, adding levies on lap dances to taxes on entrance fees. The clubs argue that a new amusement tax is one move too many, and are appealing

“It’s smart business” to apply the tax code to erotic dancing, Michael Gillen, director of the Philadelphia tax accounting group of Duane Morris LLP told Bloomberg News. “They have to be foolish not to expand their reach.”

Indeed. Of course Canadian cities lack the taxation powers of their U.S. counterparts, and Toronto has considered an amusement tax in the past and decided not to go down that road. But if the appropriate adjustments were made, the field is wide open.

Two of Philly’s many “erotic entertainment” clubs have been slapped with a nearly half million dollar tax bill, and if successful, the city could put the squeeze on dozens of others. If Toronto, with its bigger population, followed that example, in a decade or so its long-suffering commuters could be in for an easier ride.

At least, in another million laps.

Olivia Ward has covered conflict, politics and human rights from the former Soviet Union to the Middle East, South Asia and the U.S. winning national and international awards.



 

  



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