An Illinois strip club received a pretty hefty tax bill from Cook County officials over its lap dance services. Now, the joint’s owners are suing, alleging that the local tax department lost its mind by charging the business $1.7 million.
Justifying their actions by claiming lap dances must be charged under the county’s “amusement tax,” county tax officials say the figure is correct, adding that it covers taxes, interest, and penalties. But according to the owners of Polekatz Gentleman’s Club, the business is protected from the amusement tax because of a small venue exemption.
Illinois, FEE explains, is big on amusement taxes. But while outside of the state the taxes paid on different forms of entertainment are relatively rare, Illinois has continuously grown the use of this penalty. From the late 1970s, when the taxes began to spread, to now, revenue tied to entertainment services grew from $120 million to $6 billion nationwide.
In 2015, Chicago ruled that the amusement tax should be expanded to cover everything from streaming services such as Netflix to sports events. In no time, they would be coming for the gentlemen’s club as well.
Politicians Tweak The Law For Higher Revenue
In the past, Cook County was accused of illegally taxing strip clubs and over a decade ago, the 1st District Appellate Court in Chicago ruled officials couldn’t tax nude dancing, as the tax as written constituted “content-based regulations on speech.” But since then, lawmakers tweaked the law’s language, making “amusement” a broad enough term that even “dancing” was fair game.
As the owners of the club try to get rid of the tax bill by claiming exemption, other businesses over the years have also tried to use any potential loophole to avoid paying similar taxes. And for as long as these taxes stay in the book, expect to see more businesses doing all in their power to avoid them.
Unfortunately, nothing matters when it comes to taxation. Governments will tax anything, whether it’s work or play, just to sustain their status. And because they do so, the common man has no power to stand in opposition to this abusive system. After all, only the state has a monopoly on the use of force to achieve its means.
‘Voting For A Living’ And Why Taxation Legitimizes The State
James Bovard once explained that government buys our support by giving us welfare and that the more the voter receives in benefits, the more likely he or she is to “vote for a living” instead of actually working.
Long before Bovard, Austrian economist Ludwig von Mises also elaborated on the subject, clarifying that once the majority of the voting population is on some kind of welfare, they will begin to demand the government to boost programs targeting people’s earnings and wealth.
With more than half of Americans getting more on welfare than they pay in taxes, it’s just natural to see governments, local or federal, desperate to find ways to boost their revenue, pushing all kinds of taxes on all kinds of products and services.
As the Beatles song “Taxman” illustrates, there’s nothing a bureaucrat can’t tax. And as long as voters personally benefit from more taxation, it will be hard to persuade them to stand up against the state.