STUMP » Articles » Taxing Tuesday: Taxing Anything That Moves » 15 January 2019, 05:43

Where Stu & MP spout off about everything.

Taxing Tuesday: Taxing Anything That Moves  


15 January 2019, 05:43


Cash-Desperate Illinois Is Now Taxing Lap Dances

As anyone who’s ever stepped into a “gentlemen’s club” knows, lap dances can get pretty pricey. But owners of an Illinois strip joint believe the nearly $2 million tax bill they received for lap dance services provided is a bit much.

Court records show that proprietors of Polekatz Gentlemen’s Club, a strip club in Bridgeview, Illinois, a suburb of Chicago, are suing Cook County, alleging its revenue department is illegally demanding $1.7 million for lap dances under its “amusement tax.” That figure includes interest and penalties, according to The Cook County Record.

The Land of Lincoln has been perhaps the nation’s boldest pioneer on the amusement tax front. While Chicago’s 2015 ruling, which expanded the amusement tax to cover streaming services such as Netflix and Hulu (and has since landed on Playstation users), has captured most of the national headlines, local governments such as Cook County and the city of Bloomington have also found ways to tax fun.
Unlike Cook County’s previous amusement tax, strip clubs do not appear to be unfairly or unlawfully targeted. Polekatz, located about a dozen miles southwest of the Chicago Loop, is simply one of hundreds of Cook County businesses designated an “amusement operator;” therefore, the club is unlikely to receive legal protection on free expression grounds.
To most people, the idea of taxing lap dances sounds as absurd as courts deciding if stripping is a form of artistic expression, as one New York strip club argued in 2012 in the hopes of getting a tax exemption. (In the end, after several years of litigation, a New York judge concluded that pole dancing is art; lap dances are not.)

Well. I am no art expert…..

Okay, anyway, it sounds like Polekatz is objecting simply to the total amount, not that they’re being taxed.



If they do, they should drop the SALT cap to zero.

The Party of the Rich goes to bat for its constituents:

The Democrats are the Party of the Rich. They were swept into the House majority by a revolt of the elites. This party of Orange County, Westchester County, and Chicago’s North Shore is playing the part, wasting no time pushing policies to hand special tax breaks to their upper-middle-class constituents.

Consider Rep. Nita Lowey, D-N.Y. As the chairwoman of the Appropriations Committee, former chairwoman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, and in the top 10 in seniority among Democrats, Lowey is among the most powerful members of Congress.

She has introduced two bills so far. One is the appropriations measure to reopen the government. The other is a major tax cut for the rich.

That tax cut is getting rid of the SALT cap.

Look, with the increase in the standard deduction, as well as cuts in marginal rates, you have had to have been taking ginormous deductions compared to one’s income for the TCJA to end up as a tax increase.

The “worst” that happens to most high income people (like me) is that our taxes didn’t really get cut with the TCJA… but they also didn’t go up.

Lowey’s district, for instance, has a median income of $96,000 and income tax rates that get as high as 8.82 percent. Throw on the astronomical property taxes in those New York City suburbs, and you can see why Lowey is big on maximizing this tax break for the wealthy.

The Democrats wouldn’t have taken over the House without its pickups in wealthy and high-tax districts. The ten states with the highest state and local taxes as a percentage of income accounted for 15 Democratic pickups (notably California, New York, New Jersey, and Minnesota). Throw in the Democratic flips in very wealthy suburban districts in Illinois and Virginia, and you realize the Democrats owe their majority to folks who have benefited the most from this tax break for the rich.

To be sure, there are high income folks not paying very high state or local taxes, but they’re in evil places like Florida and Texas. Soak those rich people, who refuse to vote for Democrats! (to be fair, I think a lot of the very high income folks in Texas do vote for Dems.)

I have a compromise position: just completely ignore state and local taxes for purpose federal income tax (aka: SALT cap at 0 — which would just involve removing anything involving state/local taxes from the filing. Simplifies things!)

By removing such deductions, Congress can drop marginal rates even further, and be revenue neutral!

Why should the federal government tax policy have anything to do with local tax policy? Increases in state/local taxes shouldn’t lead to reduced federal revenue!


With nothing left to lose, Ford Heights property taxpayers revolt

In Chicagoland’s poorest suburb, just three miles from the Indiana border, property owners have discovered the most effective strategy yet for avoiding Illinois’ highest-in-the-nation property taxes.

Stop paying.

Facing astronomical bills on real estate that’s now worthless at best, Ford Heights home and business owners have literally nothing to lose by ignoring them.

Nearly 1,000 Ford Heights property tax bills totaling $2.3 million weren’t paid last year, according to an analysis of Cook County Treasurer records by South Cook News. That’s in a village of just 2,763 people, 987 households and 729 residential properties.

That’s… that’s an impressive tax revolt.

The 20 most expensive properties in Ford Heights in 2017 amounted to $6.6 million in alleged, collective property value and $1.07 million in property taxes due, according to Cook County.

An analysis by South Cook News found that 13 of those 20 bills have not been paid, totaling $737,630 of the $1.07 million.

They include Ford Heights’ top billed property, GMI Recycling Services at 1703 Cottage Grove Ave. The county values the property at $403,356; its tax bill last year was $192,271, or 48 percent of its alleged market value.

The McCullough Funeral Home at 1619 E. Lincoln Highway, next to Illinois Route 394, is delinquent on its $72,489 bill. Its effective rate is 28.5 percent on the property, valued at $253,932.

Two of Ford Heights three liquor stores are delinquent on their property taxes, including Food & Liquor on Lincoln (bill: $54,658) and BJ Foods & Liquor ($25,378). A New Way Food & Liquor ($30,632) is current; it was the scene of a 2009 fight between a village trustee, the liquor store’s clerk and Ford Heights police in 2009. The clerk had refused to sell the trustee more alcohol.

So, you can kind of see why these bills aren’t being paid.

Also, nice touch on the trustee tiff detail.


Without comment from me:

Separately, this really isn’t a tax story — at least, not anymore. But I thought I’d mention those gas tax protests in France have gone way past protesting taxes.

Some recent bits on that:

Oh my.

Well, you can see that’s all going well. Isn’t it interesting where tax revolts can lead?


I would be impressed if she knew how to interpret the returns at all.

Good luck with that.

Don’t mess with the IRS.


Hmmm, I think my avoidance of lettuce (and other raw foods) should continue…


Why does one need to look at the past?

TIL: Australia uses American spelling. I did not know that.

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