Belly dancer tax hit after classes ruled 'not educational'


A court has ruled that the belly dancing classes run by the Fleur Estelle Belly Dance School were not educational. It seems like a minor detail, but it's one that is going to cost the school's owner an incredible £50,000 in tax.

She's not the first person to find themselves arguing tax matters in front of a judge - plenty of celebrities have done it.

Belly dancing

Audrey Cheruvier is the 28-year-old professional belly dancer behind the school. She had paid tax on the basis that she was providing an educational service and should have the same VAT exemption as other teachers and tutors. However, the taxman disagreed and took her to tribunal.

The Evening Standard reported that at the tribunal she argued that belly dancing was a "serious and systematic course of study". However, according to The Telegraph the judge sided with the taxman, saying that people went to the classes for fun rather than to become proficient, he added that it was not a sport because it was not 'ordinarily taught' in schools and universities - and there is no external examining board or syllabus. She will now have to pay £52,921 in back-taxes.

Celebrity tax cases

And she's not the only person to have had a surprise from the taxman which ended up in front of a judge.

One of the most famous traded under the name Miss Whiplash and offered adult services. In the 1980s she argued that she couldn't pay tax because it would mean that the HMRC was living off immoral earnings, but the judge ruled against her on the grounds that any personal service - regardless of whether they are immoral or illegal - is subject to tax.

For singer-songwriter Lauryn Hill, the shock was even more dramatic. She served three months in prison last year for tax evasion. She had failed to pay tax on $1.8 million of earnings.

Sophia Loren, the Oscar-winning Italian actress fell foul of the taxman in Italy - serving an 18-day sentence for tax evasion in 1982.

Actor Wesley Snipes hit trouble when he was found guilty of failing to pay tax on earnings between 1999 and 2001. He was jailed for three years and freed in April last year

And finally there was Richard Hatch, the first winner of the reality show 'Survivor'. He made the foolish error of not declaring his winnings to the taxman and was sentenced to 51 months in prison for tax evasion in 2006.

Celebrities who fell foul of the tax system

Celebrities who fell foul of the tax system