California Lawmakers Mulling $10 Strip Club 'Pole Tax'

Rhett Pardon

SACRAMENTO — Another strip club tax is being considered by California's Legislature.

AB 2441, which was just amended in the Assembly yesterday, would place a $10 fee on visitors of establishments that offer alcohol and topless or nude performances.

Eighty businesses would qualify for the tax, according to California's Board of Equalization.

It's the fourth attempt to tax sexually explicit businesses in the past four years in California. All of those bills, which would have taxed patrons up to 20 percent on sales or services at sexually explicit businesses including strip clubs, were shot down.

AB 2441, however, would be the first legislative action to mandate a fixed-fee "pole tax" in the Golden State.

The bill, which was introduced in February, would require a two-thirds vote of both the Assembly and Senate because the statute would result in higher taxes for consumers.

Beneficiaries of the proposed mandatory $10-a-head tax would include programs that treat and prevent sexual assaults.

James Joyce, a spokesman for state Assemblyman Das Williams of Oxnard, who sponsored the bill, told XBIZ that there is a dire need to remedy inadequate services for sexual assault victims and that strip clubs are a good possible resource for funding because there's already a model to tax adult entertainment establishments.

Pole taxes are now mandatory in Texas and Utah, with legislation being mulled for similar tariffs for adult entertainment customers in Illinois, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Tennessee.

"Most who go to these establishments know very well they'll have to bring an extra few bucks," Joyce said. "So, for those who go, $10 is not so much to sacrifice. Let's face it, adult entertainment does very well even during a recession."

Joyce said that the bill is on track in the Assembly and could be approved by both houses as early as September.

If approved, the bill could become operative within three months of the governor signing it into law.