Board Chairwoman Nancy Kammerdeiner said the Revenue Department's interpretation of the tax was too broad.
The owners' lawyers had also argued that lap dances should qualify for an exception to the amusement tax for "contemporary American theater," but the board didn't rule on that issue.
Attorney George Bochetto, who represented two of the clubs and demonstrated a penchant for the theatrical himself, said this wasn't just a win for the strip clubs, but for entertainment venues across the city - and for the economy and democracy.
"This is really a victory for every commercial establishment in Philadelphia that has a door charge that conducts any kind of interior activity: piano bars, pool halls, karaoke," he said. "This ruling of not taxing or overtaxing actually helps the economy."
The board's action, he said, is "a great example of the way in which our government works, and that is when one branch takes action, another branch or another agency gets to check it."
And why did the strip clubs prevail here when similar cases in other states have failed?
"George Bochetto," Bochetto said.
In hearings, Deputy City Solicitor Marissa O'Connell argued that paying for a lap dance is the same thing as paying a new admission charge and should therefore be subject to the tax. She declined to comment yesterday.
Asked whether the administration will appeal the decision, Nutter spokesman Mark McDonald said: "We will look at the decision from the Tax Review Board, and then we will evaluate our options."
On Twitter: @SeanWalshDN