Street prostitutes taxed via vending machine
The Rhineland city of Bonn is now requiring sex workers to purchase a daily tax ticket from a vending machine to walk the streets – ostensibly to make taxation fairer for prostitutes who work in brothels.
As of Monday, prostitutes had to pay the charge of €6 before they start their business, regardless of the number of customers. A notice on the machine defines the prostitute’s working hours with bureaucratic efficiency: Monday to Sunday, 8:15 pm to 6:00 am.
This is the first such vending machine system in Germany. Dortmund also requires street-workers to buy a tax ticket, though it is on sale in nearby petrol stations, rather than vending machines.
The city council justified the move on the grounds of fairness. City spokeswoman Monika Frömbgen pointed out that prostitutes working in establishments like brothels and sauna clubs also have to pay taxes.
Frömbgen also said the machines were designed for those streetwalkers with limited German skills, who have difficulty filling in income tax forms. She added that inspectors will be sent out to check the tickets; a prostitute with no ticket will first be given a warning, followed by fines and possibly a ban.
Bonn – currently facing financial difficulties – introduced a tax on selling sex at the beginning of this year, and is expecting annual revenue of €300,000.
The city’s street prostitutes have already been limited to certain areas, following protests from local residents. Six designated, closed off parking spaces have been installed in one area near a brothel where customers can take prostitutes in their cars.