The Netherlands will start collecting income taxes from prostitutes this year. Tax inspectors have started to make visits to over 3000 of the country’s prostitutes in order to talk to sex workers about the average number of clients they serve each day, and how much the sex workers charge per visit, in order to make an estimate about the salary range of the prostitutes.
Sex workers are viewed as independent contractors in the Netherlands, and they have not been required to pay income taxes in the past. But Holland is feeling the economic crunch as badly as the rest of the world, and this is no doubt a very practical approach to generating tax revenue. According to the Dutch newspaper Parool:
Prostitutes in Amsterdam did not pay income tax on humanitarian grounds. The taxman always left them untouched. The reasoning was that prostitutes were in fact victims of trafficking, and all were exploited by pimps, and that taxes would cause another form of exploitation. Such leniency was towards both Dutch and foreign prostitutes, but Dutch women were generally treated less leniently than victims of trafficking from Eastern Europe. The new taxes will be equally applied . . .
The City of Amsterdam believes that the exploitation of women still occurs in prostitution, but the Treasury now considers it high time prostitutes to start treating as ordinary taxpayers. (Please excuse any errors in translation.)