MLR

State’s revenue department apparently dances to a different tune

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Dancing protestors invaded the Washington state capitol last month to protest a state law that levies a tax on businesses offering attendees the “opportunity” to dance, according to the Associated Press. Apparently, state lawmakers are considering a repeal of the law.

Protesters danced the salsa, the blues, flamenco and tango. And at one point, a conga line snaked up and down the steps of the capitol building, the report said. One group performed the Charleston.

Proponents of the repeal say enforcement is arbitrary, targeting medium-sized venues or taverns. They claim the tax is not assessed against places like sports stadiums that often host concerts where people break out in spontaneous dance.

The Washington Department of Revenue has countered that the businesses protesting the tax are those that were not doing their bookkeeping correctly and whose back taxes came to light in audits. A department spokesperson said in a statement that the tax “applied to certain recreational activities since the 1960s, and our job is to ensure that businesses comply with those laws.”

The protest was coming from “a handful of businesses that failed to collect sales tax on cover charges they imposed on customers to enter dance venues. Most of their competitors were properly collecting sales tax when due,” the spokesperson said. “And if businesses weren’t sure whether or not they should collect the tax in a given situation, all they had to do was ask us. They didn’t.”

The proposed tax repeal, which has bipartisan support, would cost the state more than $880,000 in the 2013-2015 budget cycle.

“Every day brings a chance for you to draw in a breath, kick off your shoes, and dance.” – Oprah Winfrey