A new trick: Dutch taxman hunting prostitutes

Prostitutes in the famed windows of Amsterdam's red light can expect a business-only visit from the government

By Toby Sterling
Published January 12, 2011 12:06PM (EST)
A quiet night in Amersterdam's red light district.
A quiet night in Amersterdam's red light district.

Amid budget cuts and falling revenues, the Dutch government has warned prostitutes who advertise their wares in the famed windows of Amsterdam's red light district to expect a business-only visit from the taxman.

Prostitution has flourished in Amsterdam since the 1600s, when the Netherlands was a major naval power and sailors swaggered into the city's port looking for a good time. The country legalized prostitution in 2000, but authorities are only now demanding prostitutes pay income tax.

Janneke Verheggen, spokeswoman for the country's Tax Service, said now is the right time to "increase compliance."

In a sign of the times, few prostitution advocates are protesting -- though many are skeptical tax law can be enforced in an all-cash industry.


Toby Sterling

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European Union Prostitution