Stripper Tax Passes in Illinois

Beginning January 1, 2013, strip clubs located in Illinois will face a new type of tax.

Known as the stripper tax, Illinois has passed a law that will require strip clubs located in the state to pay a portion of their income to a general fund.  The fund will be used to pay for programs with the goal of preventing sexual assault and providing counseling services to those who have been victims of sexual assault.  The law was passed on Saturday when it was signed by Governor Pat Quinn.

The stripper tax will apply to any establishment that has live nude dancing and provides alcohol.  Clubs can pay either a flat $3 per customer or pay a tiered amount depending on the club’s annual sales.

Estimates peg the stripper tax at generating approximately $1 million annually.  This money will offset budget cuts made in prior years related to sexual assault prevention programs.

“When a sexual assault victim goes to a police station or a survivor calls a hotline, we need trained staff ready to respond,” said Lieutenant  Governor Sheila Simon, who supported the effort.  “This bill helps to keep lights on and doors open, jobs filled and responders trained.”

The state of Illinois currently has 33 locations dedicated to counseling victims of rape and other sexual assaults.  Over the past four years, annual funding for these locations has decreased from $5.8 million to $4.6 million.

Although the need for additional funding in the area of rape crisis is generally supported, there is concern from those in support of strip clubs that the tax will lead people to believe strip clubs are responsible for an increase in rape or other violent sexual assaults.  As studies have not proven that strip clubs lead to an increase in rape or other sexual assaults, club representatives are unsure why they are being targeted to fund such programs.

“I certainly do not for a minute believe that our industry causes these problems,” said Michael Ocello, the owner of five strip clubs located in southern Illinois.  “But one thing we do agree on is that rape crisis centers need to be funded.  So, hopefully this will have an effect.”

As the proposed law was reviewed by the state legislature, those from the Republican party expressed concern about creating another tax.  But in the end the legislature likewise agreed additional funding was needed to support rape victims.

On Saturday, Governor Quinn signed a total of three laws into effect with the goal of offering further protection to women from sexual assault.  In addition to the stripper tax, one law provides for a voluntary course that can be taught in high schools to raise awareness of sexual assault, rape, and related crimes.  The other law allows for prosecutors to reference prior domestic violence convictions in cases where an offender is charged with first- or second-degree murder where domestic violence occurred.

“Violence against women has occurred in small towns, urban neighborhoods and college campuses,” Quinn added.  “These new laws will help us hold the predators accountable as well as prevent behavior which can lead to sexual assaults.”

by Mark Johnston

Mark has been a contributor to legal web sites related to bankruptcy, tax, and criminal law since 2011. He has an Accounting degree from Texas A&M University.