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Lap dances are taxable because they don't promote culture in a community the way ballet or other artistic endeavors do, New York's highest court concluded Tuesday in a sharply divided ruling.

The court split 4-3, with the dissenting judges saying there's no distinction in state law between "highbrow dance and lowbrow dance," so the case raises "significant constitutional problems."

The lawsuit was filed by Nite Moves in suburban Albany, which was arguing fees for admission to the strip club and for private dances are exempt from sales taxes.

The court majority said taxes apply to many entertainment venues, such as amusement parks and sporting events. It ruled the club has failed to prove it qualifies for the exemption for "dramatic or musical arts performances" that was adopted by the Legislature "with the evident purpose of promoting cultural and artistic performances in local communities."

The majority reached similar conclusions about admission fees to watch dances done onstage around a pole, as well as for lap dances or private dances.

W. Anderson McCullough, attorney for the club, said he and his client were bitterly disappointed by the judges' ruling.

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