Palm Beach County Will Exempt Certain Businesses From "Dancing Tax"

Earlier this week we brought you the story of Chrissy Benoit, who owns Havana Hideout in Lake Worth. Not long ago, Benoit was approached by the Palm Beach County tax collector's office and informed that she owed years worth of unpaid fees (plus interest) for what is know as the "Entertainment Fee" or "Dancing Tax." Benoit disagreed with the county, pointing out that while she pays musicians to play, she never charges a cover.

The city of Lake Worth agreed with Benoit. And now it looks like the county is

giving in.

In a letter obtained by The Juice, the assistant county attorney says the county will take steps to change the statute. The letter, from Robert P. Banks at the County Attorney's Office to Lake Worth Mayor Rene Varela, dated February 24, reads:

Dear Mayor Varela:

This letter is a follow up to my letter dated February 17, 2010 regarding the Entertainment/Dancing Tax. Please be advised that the County Attorney's Office is preparing an amendment to the Business Tax Ordinance that would exempt small restaurants and bars from the Entertainment/Dancing Tax levied by Section 17-69(8) of the Palm Beach County Code. This ordinance amendment will e brought to the Board of County Commissioners along with minor amendments to the Business Tax Ordinance.

Robert P. Banks
Assistant County Attorney

It's hard to imagine why the county would push so hard to collect what is a relatively small amount of money in lieu of the bad publicity. Benoit told me earlier this week that most of the small bars and restuarants that would have had to pay this fee--especially in her neighborhood in Lake Worth--were struggling small businesses, often without any legal representation.

So mark this as a win for the little guy.

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