Exotic Dancing Tax-Exempt Art?

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Yesterday, an Albany, NY based strip club argued for exemption from certain state taxes because its dancers are performance artists.

The club, Nite Moves, owes the state about $124,000 in a 2006 audit after the club did not pay proper sales tax. The club’s lawyer presented video evidence of the dancer’s performances and training to show that the acts are choreographed and therefore can be considered art. In addition, the lawyer laid out more comparisons to a theatre, arguing that the dancers are trained in several styles of dance and that the venue has dressing rooms, a master of ceremonies, ushers, and a waitstaff. Oral arguments included testimony from a cultural anthropologist, a specialist in exotic dance, who concluded that the club’s dancing qualifies as art.

Initially, a judge in the administrative court ruled in favor of the club, but that decision was turned over by NY’s tax appeals tribunal. The case was heard in NY’s highest court, the court of appeals, and the court’s decision may take up to a month.

Any thoughts?


Graham Todd is an intern at The Rumpus. He spends his mornings writing post-apocalyptic, vaguely biblical sci-fi horror comedy, his evenings tutoring the wide-eyed youth of the Palo Alto area, and his Thursdays at The Rumpus office, effectively “off the streets”. Beyond this weekly ritual, he enjoys karaoke, the movies, and jogging. More from this author →