German city pares budget deficit with "sex tax"

Thu Dec 9, 2010 1:26pm EST
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BERLIN (Reuters Life!) - Challenged with a 100 million euro ($133 million) deficit, one western German city has introduced a day tax on prostitutes to help whittle down its budget gap.

The new "pleasure tax" requires prostitutes in Dortmund to purchase a 6 euro "day ticket" for each day they work, or face a potential fine. The city estimates that the new tax will add some 750,000 euros to its coffers each year.

"Dortmund has financial problems like many cities in Germany," city spokesman Michael Meinders told Reuters. "We considered several sex taxes but this was the most practical proposal."

The new tax went into effect in August but the day tickets have not been available until this week.

An alternative proposal was to charge a 1 or 2 euro fee to anyone entering Dortmund's red-light district, but this idea got little political support, Meinders said.

Such taxes are not unusual in Germany where prostitution is legal and sex workers must pay tax on their income. Cologne introduced a 150 euro "pleasure tax" on sex workers in 2004 and later added a 6 euro day tax option for part-time prostitutes.

(Reporting by Eric Kelsey; editing by Paul Casciato)

<p>Romanian prostitutes pose in a brothel in Schoenefeld April 15, 2009. REUTERS/Hannibal Hanschke</p>