Brussels Municipality has adopted and enforced tax on ‘usual dancing parties’, which has immediately been called ‘one of Europe’s more obscure fiscal levies’. As result, owners of cafés, bars, and music clubs where dance parties are being held are obliged to pay EUR 0,40 for every person swinging on the dance floor per night.

The dancing tax, which is one of the municipal entertainment taxes charged in Brussels, was introduced more than half a century ago. In 2014, it was reconsidered and renewed.

Brussels Municipality justifies the highly criticized dancing tax by claiming that dance parties hosted in the capital of the EU entail additional expenditure for ensuring security and public order. Consequently, such expenses should be compensated from the new dance tax revenue. It is estimated that the dancing tax brings around EUR 92.000 per year to the budget of Brussels Municipality.

In order to comply with the dancing tax regulations, the qualifying taxpayers are required to submit tax forms to the College of Mayor and Aldermen of the City of Brussels on a monthly basis. The forms should indicate the number of dance parties held during the previous month and the registered number of visitors. The failure to do so may result in an audit conducted by tax inspectors, followed by monetary sanctions. In order to control the accuracy of the submitted data, inspectors from the financial department of Brussels Municipality visit bars incognito with the purpose to count the number of dancing persons.

The new tax quickly raised reactions from dancers and owners of bars. To protest against it and reduce his tax burden, an owner of a bar in Brussels has put stickers on the windows asking the visitors of the bar not to dance inside. Furthermore, taxable persons and dancers question the criteria that apply to the term ‘dancing’, as the specifics of the term are not defined in the law. The questions posed to tax authorities include:‘is dancing a pure rhythmic movement in accordance with music’and‘is throwing your arms in the air dancing?’