Overhauled 'Pole Tax' Plan Endorsed by Illinois Lawmakers

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. — Illinois lawmakers are endorsing a revamped strip club "pole tax" that would generate less revenue than originally planned.

A Senate panel this week has given the green light to tax strip club patrons $3; alternatively, clubs could opt for a flat annual fee based on the amount of revenue they generate.

The proposal would affect clubs that offer alcohol and nudity, including topless dancing.

The legislation, state House Bill 1645, originally sought $5 a head and no flat fee to help fund rape crisis centers in the state.

With the rewritten bill, lawmakers estimated it would bring in about $1 million, less than a projected $6 million in the bill's previous incarnation.

Now, club operators that don't charge the $3 tariffs to customers would be subject to a flat annual fee option, according to the bill's language. Clubs that report taxable receipts of $2 million or more would pay $25,000 a year; clubs that report total receipts of $500,000 to $2 million would pay $15,000; and clubs that report total receipts of less than $500,000 would pay $5,000.

State Sen. Toi Hutchinson, who introduced the bill, said that lobbyists for the adult entertainment industry, particularly the Illinois Club Owners Association, were able to forge a compromise during intense talks.

The Illinois measure, which sailed through the Senate Public Health Committee unanimously, now heads to the full Senate for further debate.

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, Tennessee and California.

Texas' pole tax runs $5 a head, while Utah charges a tax of 10 percent of gross receipts. California lawmakers are mulling a $10 tax for strip club patrons.

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