September 5th, 2011
03:59 AM GMT
(CNN) – As the eurozone battles public debt issues, a city in Germany has made it easier for sex workers to pay taxes.
Bonn has installed automated pay stations on the streets in which streetwalkers can pay and print out receipts for a 6 euro fee (about $8.70) each night, according to an article in the New York Times. If police stop the prostitutes, they must have a current ticket to practice their trade.
Prostitution is legal in Germany and income taxable. While collecting tax returns is easier at brothels, getting government revenues from curbside sex workers is more problematic for Germany tax authorities.
“What the government in Bonn was finding was that it was hard for sex workers who solicit sex on the street to fill out tax returns for many reasons: A) they were probably really busy, but also some of them don’t speak the language,” Nadia Bilchik, a CNN editorial producer, explained on CNN Saturday.
The Siemens-built meter machine – a converted parking meter – cost nearly $12,000; of the city’s 200 sex workers, an estimated 20 work on the streets, according to the Times.
"We expect to get some 200,000 euros ($288,000) per year from the meter," city spokesperson Isabelle Klotz told AFP.
According to an article in Suddeutsche Zeitung, the move was made to make taxes more equitable as sex workers in the city’s designated “Eros centers” and sauna clubs already paid taxes. Street prostitution in Bonn is limited to an area opposite an “Eros Center,” and customers use one of six “sex boxes” – partitioned parking spaces – equipped with emergency buttons to alert nearby night watchmen of trouble, according to Suddeutsche Zeitung.
One Bonn sex worker – 24-year-old “Nicoleta” from Romania – interviewed by Deutsche Welle said her main problem isn’t the new tax, but a recent drop-off in business. “It's not that much money, but when there's no work, well…"
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