New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio plans to tax women who wear paint for clothes in Times Square, claiming they’re a business so they need to pay.
Known as “desnudas”, topless women wearing only underwear and body paint stroll Time Square accepting tips for pictures and ogling. But the New York City mayor told radio host John R. Gambling on Thursday that they are providing a service in exchange for money, thus they are a business and deserved to be taxed.
“If it’s a business, it’s a business, and it should be treated like any other business” de Blasio said during the radio interview. (RELATED: NYC Mayor Wants Topless Women In Time Square To Cover Up)
But if the mayor does move forward with this legislative plan, it could possibly open a can of worms on how the city taxes other street “businesses.” Until now, the desnudas were viewed as panhandlers — not businesswomen.
“Under current law, there’s a big difference between getting tips for performing, which are taxable, and receiving gifts when you occasionally panhandle, which are not taxable,” New York University law and public policy professor Lily Batchelder told The New York Post. “If you’re getting tips for performing, then you already are a business in the eyes of the tax law.”
Other street performers, like people dressed as superheroes or mascots, are also viewed by the city as panhandlers, according to the New York Post. If the desnudas are taxed, then these folks would also need to be taken into consideration when drafting the tax legislation.
A spokesperson from New York’s City Hall claimed the taxation strategy would take a long time to suss out before implemented. In the meanwhile, the government municipality published a series of recommendations on how to make the exceedingly frenzied Time Square, more calm and tourist-friendly. The New York Daily News reported these recommendations include dividing the Midtown neighborhood in an effort to keep solicitors away from traffic and pedestrians.
“We are clearly going to move towards this segmentation of Times Square where certain activities are allowed in some areas, others in other areas,” de Blasio said in the radio interview.
The desnudas, a Spanish word for naked, have taken over the highly-visited area of the city since the summer, earning money for being naked. But along with just flaunting their flesh, some of the women have gotten busted for prostitution, others still turned a toddler into topless panhandler, while the rest have been a general nightmare for the mayor and police department.