US & Canada

New York strip club seeks 'dramatic arts' tax exemption

A stripper on a pole file pic
Is this art? The club's owners plan to ask a cultural anthropologist to give evidence in court

A New York state strip club says it should not have to pay tax, claiming an exemption for the performing arts.

But the New York state tax department and an appeal court say $124,000 (£80,000) owed by Nite Moves does not fall under an exemption for "live dramatic or musical arts performances".

The dispute is due before the state's highest court on Wednesday.

Tax officials say the club paid taxes on non-alcoholic drinks but must also pay for admission and "couch sales".

The exemption claimed by Nite Moves is usually applied to theatre performances or ballets.

The club is expected to ask a cultural anthropologist who has studied exotic dance - and visited the club - to testify on its behalf at the New York Court of Appeals.

An administrative law judge had previously ruled that "the fact that the dancers remove all or part of their costume... simply does not render such dance routines as something less than choreographed performances."

But the Tax Appeals Tribunal said the club had not adequately proved that it qualified for the exemption.

The tribunal said there was not enough proof that the dances were choreographed. An appeal court which upheld the tribunal's ruling added that club dancers did not need to have formal training.

It is expected that the high court will take about a month before issuing a decision.