Editorial: Footloose, Kick Off Your Dancing Shoes

The Department of Revenue is trying to destroy our happiness.

Several popular Seattle venues have been charged with overwhelming fees because they haven’t been paying a required tax that calls for an extra fee based on whether the area offers an “opportunity to dance.” According to state law, movies, concerts and plays are exempt from sales tax. But if people are booty dropping or lindy hopping, tax must be collected.

Venues say they have been confused by the tax, and for good reason. There has never really been a firm understanding or implementation of what the tax means or what venues it applies to. Additionally, only some venues have been audited by the DOR.

Despite outraged responses to these discrepancies, popular venues on Capitol Hill still face massive fees and a limited time to pay them off. Century Ballroom, Neumos and Neighbours are just a few local hot spots affected by these charges. Century Ballroom has to raise $92,000 in just a few months. Venues that aren’t able to come up with the face closure.

State senators have introduced a bill to exempt these venues from paying these taxes, and many Seattle residents are making donations to help save their favorite dance spots.

Meanwhile, people are still unsure of what the tax even is.

Can arenas be taxed when people dance in the aisles at a Lady Gaga concert? Can theatres be taxed when men in suspenders dance in “The Music Man” on the stage of the 5th Avenue? Can restaurants be taxed when customers dance to a live band serenading their dinner?

Maybe Seattle University should have to pay a tax for the number of flash mob line dances that happen here. That definitely provides people with an “opportunity to dance.”