Calif. $10 'Pole Tax' Bill Still Alive

Calif. $10 'Pole Tax' Bill Still Alive
Rhett Pardon

SACRAMENTO —  When California's Legislature reconvenes in January, lawmakers will have another chance to act on SB 782, a bill introduced in February and amended in May that would create a $10 flat tax to customers of strip clubs.

It's the fifth attempt to tax sexually explicit businesses in the past five years in California. All of the previous bills, which would have taxed patrons up to 20 percent on admissions or services at sexually explicit businesses, were shot down.

Last term, SB 782, authored by Sen. Mark DeSaulnier of Walnut Creek, ended up on hold and was placed on the Appropriations Committee's suspense file in May.

But the bill is officially still alive and ultimately would require a two-thirds vote of both the Assembly and Senate to move on because the statute would result in higher taxes for consumers.

If approved by the Legislature and the governor, the pole tax would be enacted until January 2024.

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

An annual fund of at least $100,000 would be appropriated to the programs if an expected appellate challenge is defeated.

Pole taxes are now mandatory in Texas, Illinois and Utah, with legislation being mulled for similar tariffs for adult entertainment customers in other states.

The Supreme Courts of Texas and Utah already have ruled that their pole taxes don't violate clubs’ free-speech rights.

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