The Texas State Comptroller is cracking down, sending letters to adult oriented businesses across the state, telling them its time to pay the 'poll tax,' 1200 WOAI news has learned.
The 'pole tax,' a $5 per head fee for every person admitted to a topless, all-nude, or strip club, was passed by the Legislature in 2007 as a way to fund programs to fight sexual assault and domestic violence. The fee has not been collected while the sexually oriented businesses challenge the fee in court, but Comptroller Susan Cobs says after seven years, it's time to fork it over.
"Many years have gone by at this point, and I think the Comptroller just feels that it's time to do this," Lawrence Collins, who is a lobbyist for the Texas Association Against Sexual Assault, told 1200 WOAI news.
The strip clubs have been suing to have the 'pole tax' overturned, arguing that there is no known connection whatsoever between sexual assault and sexually oriented businesses, and it is unfair and illegal to single out their industry for a tax which may force many of the clubs out of business.
Some strip clubs charge an entrance fee, while others require a drink minimum for customers. The law would require that all customers pay the $5 at the door, whether the club charges or not.
Collins says the Comptroller has the authority to collect the 'pole tax' retroactively, back to when the law took effect in September of 2007.
"Some of them will go out of business," he said. "I don't know how they can stand seven years of tax debt."
When the Legislature passed the pole tax, it was estimated that it would bring in $50 million a year.