Lap-Dancers Must Pay Tax, Court Says

Jennifer Love Hewitt Money

London – Lap-dancers at one of Britain’s biggest strip clubs must pay their own value added tax (VAT) bills, a senior judge ruled on Friday.

In a High Court ruling that could affect dancers at other venues, Mr Justice Mann said it was the women and not their club, Spearmint Rhino, who should foot the bill.

He backed the chain’s argument that the self-employed dancers provide the entertainment on offer, rather than the club.

“The women are not employed by the club. They are all self-employed,” Mann said. “They pay a sum to the club which allows them to ply their trade for a session of eight hours.”

Mann said an earlier decision by the VAT and Duties Tribunal that Spearmint Rhino should pay the bill was wrong.

Describing the services provided, the judge said: “A member of the public pays 8 pounds ($15.73) for admission and on entering goes into an area in which he, or she, may drink, socialize, eat and watch partially clad women dancing on a podium.

“At any one time, depending on the day, time of day and availability, there are between 20 and 140 young women available to provide the entertainment services in issue.

“Some of them will be those dancing on the podium. These proceedings do not, at least directly, concern that activity.

“The activities which concern me are those provided as a result of more direct engagement between the women and the customer.

“For a sum of money, the women can be engaged to perform private dances for the customer. A fee of 10 pounds is charged for a semi-nude dance; 20 pounds is charged for a nude dance. Each dance lasts for a ‘track’, about three minutes.

“In addition to those services, the dancer and the customer can agree what is called a ‘sit-down’.

“For 250 pounds, a sum which is in fact negotiable, a woman can be engaged to sit and socialize with the customer for an hour.”

Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs had argued that the entertainment services were supplied by the club to the customer, through the dancers they had engaged.


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