Illinois creates fund for sexual assault services with ‘strip club tax’

Stateline Midwest ~ September 2012

Over the past five years, state funding for Illinois’ 32 rape crisis centers has declined by 28 percent. State lawmakers took actions in 2012 to reverse that trend, by creating a new revenue source that will be dedicated to funding these centers. The “skin tax,” as it is sometimes called, imposes a $3 per patron surcharge on strip clubs that serve alcohol or a flat fee based on a club’s taxable receipts.

Under HB 1645, signed into law in August, money from the tax will go toward a new Sexual Assault Services and Prevention Fund. Dedicating revenue from the tax to rape crisis centers is appropriate, proponents of the bill say, because alcohol consumption at strip clubs has been linked to sexual assault, sexual harassment and prostitution.

Lt. Gov. Sheila Simon noted in a March press release that Illinois is following the lead of Texas, which passed a similar law in 2007. The Texas measure has since withstood a legal challenge that it was an unconstitutional violation of free speech. According to the Chicago Sun-Times, Illinois’ new tax is expected to raise up to $1 million a year.

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