A German city that introduced a tax on street prostitutes via kerb-side meters has said that the programme had been a success and would continue.
The Bonn government said a sex tax covering levies on sauna clubs, erotic centres and
automated pay stations similar to parking meters that were rolled out in August had brought in around 250,000 euros last year. About 14,000 euros came from the sex meters.
Bonn was the first city in Germany to introduce the meters for sex workers
as a means of extending a general tax on prostitution previously only levied on indoor sex businesses.
The meters were installed in an industrial area near the centre of town with each sex worker paying six euros per night worked, regardless of
how many customers they have. Those repeatedly caught without a ticket they can be fined.
Stuttgart tax inspectors are facing the task of measuring the floor space in all the Stuggart's brothels, after a new per square metre tax was introduced on the oldest profession.
The collectors initially resorted to extensive internet
research to find all the sex businesses in the city, but found their computers blocked from the relevant sites. Once the necessary special permission was granted, taxman Rolf Kiener and his colleagues were initially shocked. It's rather eye-opening
what's out there, he said.
The new tax means that all spaces in the city used to sell erotic pleasures will be taxed by the square metre, including strip clubs, porn cinemas and brothels. Establishments that offer both initial
approach and completion of a transaction will be forced to pay as much as EUR10 per square metre per month.
To save embarrassment, tax inspectors will be measuring up the premises by appointment rather than turning up unannounced.
A sex meter scheme, taxing prostitutes 6 euros a night to work the streets of Bonn has raised more than 35,000 euros for public coffers in its first year.
Prostitutes working the streets have to buy themselves a ticket from the converted parking
meters each night, or face a fine. In fact wardens have only handed out about 20 fines so far.
The sex tax has been accepted by the prostitutes, said city spokeswoman Elke Palm. The idea, introduced last August, was an extension of a tax
imposed on brothels in the city at the beginning of 2011, Die Welt newspaper reported.
The tax scheme includes the provision of performance huts where prostitutes and their customers can conduct business. This has reduced the number of
complaints from people living near the areas where prostitutes work, said Palm.
Mechthild Eickel, chairwoman of the sexworkers' association Bufas, said it was unfair that prostitutes rather than their customers should have to pay the tax. It is
a pleasure for the customers. Why don't they put the money in? she asked the Frankfurter Rundschau newspaper.
Rooms rented out for prostitution in Germany don't qualify for a tax break granted to hotels, a federal court said.
A VAT rate of 19% applies when rooms are used for commercial purposes, including sex work, the Federal Fiscal Court ruled from the
southern city of Munich. The reduced tax rate for hotels is 7%.
The owner of the Eros Centre in Duesseldorf, rented out 13 erotic rooms equipped with jacuzzis to sex workers on a daily or weekly basis. He argued the rooms were
eligible for the tax break because they were not specifically designed for the provision of sexual services, but operated as regular hotel rooms.
However the court ruled:
From the location of the building in a
red-light district, it is clear that the plaintiff did not keep the premises for accommodation, but for the practice of prostitution.