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Lap dancers' earnings laid bare to taxman by ruling.

The taxman can take a bite out of lap dancers' earnings after a High Court judge ruled yesterday that the clubs where they perform are not liable for VAT.

Spearmint Rhino Ventures, which describes itself as operating a chain of "gentleman's clubs", won its case that the dancer should pay VAT out of money she takes from her "customers".

The clubs were appealing against a VAT tribunal decision which found Spearmint Rhino was liable for the tax.

Mr Justice Mann, giving his ruling today, described the Spearmint Rhino club in Tottenham Court Road, London, as a "typical example".

"A member of the public pays pounds 8 for admission and on entering goes into an area in which he (or she) may drink, socialise, eat and watch partially-clad women dancing on a podium.

"At any one time (depending on the day, time and availability) there are between 20 and 140 young women available to provide the entertainment services in issue in these proceedings."

He said the services in question were when one of the dancers provided private dances for the customers for money.

"A fee of pounds 10 is charged for a semi-nude dance; pounds 20 is charged for a nude dance.

"The dance is arranged as between the dancer and customer. In addition to those services, the dancer and the customer can agree what is called a 'sit down'. For pounds 250 (a sum which is in fact negotiable) a woman can be engaged to sit and socialise with the customer for an hour."

The judge found that HM Revenue's argument that the services were supplied by Spearmint Rhino to the customer was wrong.

David Milne QC, representing Spearmint Rhino, said the dancer has to pay the club for the facilities she uses and there was no contract between the club and the men she "entertained".

He said the tribunal had made a mistake in ruling the dancers were Spearmint Rhino's agents.
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Publication:The Birmingham Post (England)
Date:Mar 24, 2007
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