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THE POLE TAX; EXCLUSIVE Topless bars to be raided as inspectors set sights on big-earning lap dancers.

Byline: By NORMAN SILVESTER

LAP dancers are to be stripped of their assets in a tax crackdown by the Inland Revenue. Investigators say most of the estimated 1500 women who work as strippers in Scotland are failing to pay any tax.

Now a team from the Inland Revenue's feared Compliance Unit is set to raid lap dancing bars this month.

They will tell girls who work there to attend interviews at local offices to provide details of their earnings.

There are now 15 lap dancing bars in Scotland, where dancers can earn anything from pounds 50,000 to pounds 200,000 a year.

But it is believed they owe millions of pounds in unpaid tax dating back to the late 1990s.

A spokesman for the Inland Revenue whose advertising campaign is fronted by the cartoon inspector Hector said the club raids will be part of a crackdown on Scotland's black economy.

He told the Sunday Mail: ``If people are working and not paying their correct tax or are not registered to pay tax, they should look over their shoulder.

``Our compliance units across Britain will be looking at a wide range of people who operate within the black economy.

``Lap dancing is a growing industry where some may feel they do not need to pay tax. But if you are earning over a certain level, you must pay income tax and National Insurance contributions.

``We do not make any ethical judgements on what people do for a living.''

Scotland's first lap dancing club opened six years ago. There are now five in Edinburgh, one in Dundee, four in Glasgow and five in Aberdeen. Mostclubs charge around pounds 15 a dance which normally lasts for about three minutes.

However, many girls make more from tips, especially in the clubs' VIP suites.

A woman working normal opening hours from 9 pm to 3 am can generate up to pounds 750 on a busy night.

Douglas Moffat, owner of the Truffle Club in Glasgow, says he regularly warns the women working for him that they must pay income tax.

He added: ``When they sign a contract we tell them they are liable for paying tax on their earnings, not the club.

``We always tell them they are better off paying something rather than nothing.

``In future we may have to consider introducing a voucher system where people pay for the dance in advance then hand the girl a voucher. That would make it easier for the girls and the tax office to keep track of their earnings.

Dancers pay owners like Moffat a ``rental'' charge to work in their club.

The club owners make most of their money from the entry fee and bar profits.

In addition to a jail term of up to seven years, lap dancers who evade tax face paying six per cent interest on unpaid bills and penalties of up to 100 per cent of the outstanding debt.

CAPTION(S):

Taxing job: Hector, the cartoon inspector, checks out a dancer's assets; Girls warned: Truffle Club in Glasgow
COPYRIGHT 2004 Scottish Daily Record & Sunday
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Copyright 2004 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Publication:Sunday Mail (Glasgow, Scotland)
Date:Jan 4, 2004
Words:508
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