Dancing Around Paying the "Pole Tax"

- The 'pole tax' is just what it sounds like, a tax on establishments that offer live nude dancing. If an establishment allows the consumption of alcohol on the premisses, the business has to pay the tax.

The tax that was put into place in 2008, but it's not being paid because some believe the tax violates the First Amendment. Recently, the Texas Comptroller sent a letter to businesses affected by the 'pole tax', informing them that they are going to collect all of the money owed. Even though the tax is being disputed in court, it does not excuse them from paying up. These businesses were also informed that they owe back taxes from the date that the law was put into place. Three businesses here in the Abilene area recieved a letter asking them to pay up.

Many are aware of the negative opinions about this industry, including Paul Hannaman, the president and CEO of Burlesque Incorporated. He says, "It's an attack on the art of women's nude dance. That's why everyone calls it the 'pole tax'." Hannaman, who oversees the Cloud 9 establishment in Abilene believes that there is a good side to the business. He says, it's a form of expression triggering First Amendment protections.

"They are taking away their ability to give this message to the world, to only the people who want to see it, and people who want to hear, and it's a message of  freedom, it's a message of beauty, it's a message of grace, and it's an American art form."

The state argues nude dancing coupled with alcohol consumption contributes to what they call 'secondary effects', associated with sexual abuse.

The deadline for 'pole tax' payments is at the end of July this year. This deadline will cause many places of businesses to shut their doors. 

Hannaman concludes saying, "Today, we live in a society, where politicians, in their greed and ignorance, can take away your freedoms. And they will do that if you let them do it. They will regulate your freedoms away."

$14 million dollars has been collected from the fee so far, and the money is being held while the courts decide if the tax is unconstitutional.

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