Sex Tax Helps Keep Cologne Up and Running | Business | Economy and finance news from a German perspective | DW | 15.12.2006

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Sex Tax Helps Keep Cologne Up and Running

The western German city of Cologne enjoys its reputation as a happy-go-lucky metropolis, so much so that tax officials have given up denying people their vices in favor of enjoying record revenue from a "sex tax."

Prostitutes have to pay the state 150 euros a month in sex tax

Prostitutes have to pay the state 150 euros a month in sex tax

As the only German city that places a direct tax on women working in the world's oldest profession, the city of Cologne is slated to receive a record 828,000 euros ($1.1 million) in sex tax revenues in 2006, an increase of about 38,000 euros over 2005, a city spokesman told the German ddp news agency on Friday.

A global pioneer in taxing prostitutes, Cologne instituted the 150-euro per month tax in 2004, replacing voluntary reporting scheme. This year Germany's fourth-largest city also instituted a "part-time" prostitute tax of six euros per day after authorities said a many prostitutes proved they only worked a few days a month and were being taxed unfairly.

An established tax

"(The tax) led to women sending in sick notes and proof of their vacations without being asked because they were not working during that time," the city's spokesman said, adding it was a sign that the tax had become an accepted cost of doing business for sex workers.

The sex levy is part of the "pleasure tax," which originally placed a duty on casinos and arcades and was later extended to include brothels, massage parlors and table-dancing clubs.

The city's finance department was not able to say how many prostitutes worked in the city as individual tax numbers could be registered to entire brothels. Prostitution is legal in Germany, where sex workers also have to pay income and value-added taxes.

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