Squeezing sex workers

I was surprised to discover, when browsing through my favourite accounting journals, that the Dutch authorities are planning to tax the income of prostitutes. The public finances of the Netherlands must be in a parlous state for its government to resort to such desperate measures. Everyone knows that prostitutes are paid cash for their services, and rarely provide invoices or receipts. Very few clients will inform on them and their evidence never stands up in court. 

Well do I remember the case of Miss Belinda Swallows, the high-class London escort who rented an apartment in Mayfair and owned a Rolls-Royce. When the taxman paid her a visit and asked about the source of her income, she said: 

“Like a Franciscan monk, I subsist on the generosity of my fellow human beings. They take me out for meals, stock my wardrobe with fine clothes and shower me with valuable gifts. If the office in which you toil were a little more benevolent and a little less rapacious, it might be similarly blessed with donations from admirers and well-wishers.” 

The grey-suited minion of Her Majesty was forced to leave empty-handed, to the sullen stares of the maids, valets and nannies employed in that most affluent neighbourhood of London. His experience typifies the fruitless game of hide-and-seek that the British exchequer has been playing with prostitutes for centuries. I doubt the Dutch will be any more successful. 

Of course, there are other ways of making call girls contribute to society. I’m sure these good-hearted ladies would be willing to do some form of community service in lieu of paying taxes. Think of all the college students who need advice on birth control methods; the bored housewives eager for tips on how to spice up their dreary marriages; the impotent old men longing to feel a fresh pair of titties on their faces before the final trip to the nursing home. A nation that demands a share of its prostitutes’ earnings, instead of utilising their unique skills and experience, makes a pimp of all its citizens. 

If the coffers of the Dutch state are truly empty, they should consider something more practical than a tart tax. The Argentine government has recently imposed a creative (and wholly ethical) tax on breast implants. Rather than persecuting people who perform a necessary public service, this sensible method of revenue generation targets cosmetic surgeons and women with fake boobs, groups that might fairly be described as froth on the dipstick of society. 

We gorillas are lucky not to be lumbered with such problems. We have no need of prostitution because our females give it away free when they're in the season and repulse you with savage violence when they're not. We have no need of taxation because (a) we live within our means and (b) our IOU’s are equivalent to hard currency on the rare occasions we need to borrow supplies from baboons and other jungle primates. If you make life too complex, you shouldn’t be surprised to face complications.

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