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Panhandler Or Performer? New York City Considers Taxing Time Square Buskers


When is a panhandler a performer? And do nearly naked women perform when they pose for a photo, or are they unclad panhandlers who get tips because people want them to buy a coat?

New York Mayor de Blasio told a radio audience this week that desnudas - topless women who paint their bodies and pose for photos for tips - ought to pay taxes on what they earn.

City officials would like to find a way to remove the thicket of people in Times Square who dress up as Superman or Elsa, or just down as desnudas, to pose for photos for cash. Some can get aggressive, and it's sad when a street Mickey Mouse or desnuda uses some sharp old New York street language near a child. Current law currently classifies street performers as panhandlers, so buskers don't pay taxes. But the mayor says if it's a business, it's a business. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Scott Simon is one of America's most admired writers and broadcasters. He is the host of Weekend Edition Saturday and is one of the hosts of NPR's morning news podcast Up First. He has reported from all fifty states, five continents, and ten wars, from El Salvador to Sarajevo to Afghanistan and Iraq. His books have chronicled character and characters, in war and peace, sports and art, tragedy and comedy.
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