Philadelphia’s Tax Review Board has struck down a tax on lap dances in what are known as “gentlemen’s clubs” in the city. City officials had hoped to collect thousands of dollars in back taxes from three club operators.
The board decided the city could not expand the amusement tax past the admission fee for the gentleman’s clubs to the activities inside, including lap dances, said Nancy Kammerdeiner, review board head.
“Both the ordinance and its application by the city are vague and inconsistent, thus necessitating a ruling in favor of the taxpayers,’ she said. “It is well settled that any ambiguities in a taxing statute are to be construed in favor of the taxpayer and against the taxing authority.”
Attorney George Bochetto, who represented Club Risque and Cheerleaders, said if the tax had been upheld, lap dancers wouldn’t be the only ones facing additional taxes.
“This is really a victory for every commercial establishment in Philadelphia that has a door charge that conducts any kind of interior activity — piano bars, pool halls, karaoke institutions — all of these places of entertainment are all benefitted by this ruling,” Bochetto said.
City officials have the right to appeal the ruling.