Prostitutes working the streets of the old West German capital now have to buy tickets from converted roadside vending machines that once dispensed tickets to the city’s drivers. A night’s ticket will set a prostitute back £5.30, irrespective of the number of clients they have.
Like parking metres, the machines also tell users the times of day when a ticket is necessary: in this case between the hours of 8:15pm and 6am, Monday to Sunday.
Monika Frombgen, a spokeswoman for Bonn city council, said the ticket machines would bring street prostitutes into fiscal line with their peers in registered sex establishments.
“This is an act of tax fairness,” she said. “Prostitutes in fixed establishments such as brothels and sauna clubs already pay tax.” She added that with many street prostitutes foreign born previous attempts to tax them had floundered on a widespread inability to comprehend a German income tax form. The machines, Bonn hopes, will provide an easy-to-understand system of taxation…
The ticket machines come as the latest step in Bonn’s drive to increase tax revenue from prostitution as it wrestles with financial problems. Earlier this year the city introduced a “sex tax”, and it expects the levy to raise annual revenue of £265,000 for the city’s coffers…
The city has banned prostitution from areas of the city, and allocated six closed-off parking places for the use of prostitutes and their clients.
Aside from the chuckles, this is a useful exercise in thoughtful fiscal policy from a sophisticated, well-educated nation. Imagine trying to sort something like this out in the United States?
But, then, much of Western Europe also has [somewhat more] sensible policies about drugs, speeding, unemployment.