[Warning – this post is rated PG-13.]
by Brian Mahany
Tax stories are never much fun. We hate paying taxes and even finding a little humor is often a bit difficult. Not in Texas where they spell “poll tax” as “pole tax.”
Back in 2007, then freshman state representative Ellen Cohen proposed a strip club tax to fund schools. Little did she know that lobbyists would soon label the tax legislation “Tits for Tots.” The name stuck and the bill quickly died.
Two years later, the bill resurfaced, this time to fund sexual assault victims. That there is no direct link between the clubs and sexual assault victims didn’t stop legislators from passing the bill. As drafted, patrons entering strip clubs are taxed $5.00 at the door.
Of course, the new pole tax did not sit well with strip club owners who immediately challenged the law. They claim that the tax is an unconstitutional infringement on First Amendment free speech and artistic expression. “No” said the Supremes meaning the law is constitutional.
There are still two other legal challenges to the law pending in other courts.
Whether you agree with the legislation or not, government has a nasty habit of passing tax special legislation and simply later taking the money for other purposes. It’s much easier to raise money for kids or schools or sexual assault victims than to simply raise taxes. Legislatures typically find a way to make the legislation look like it raising money for a popular cause and then later amend a budget bill to simply take the money and spend it elsewhere.
While many law firms specialize in IRS matters, state sales and excise taxes often have a huge impact on small, local businesses and manufacturers. Brian Mahany is the former state revenue commissioner from Maine and has lectured across the U.S. on state tax issues. If your business has state tax problems, audits, nexus issues or state tax liens, give us a call. We help individuals too. For more information, contact Brian at (414) 704-6731 (direct dial) or by email at
Mahany & Ertl, LLC – America’s Tax Lawyers. Offices in Wisconsin, Michigan, Maine & California (satellite).